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Between 29.7 and 50 million American adults (10 and 15 percent) experience some degree of tinnitus annually.
Tinnitus is also the number one service-connected disability among military veterans. Those affected by tinnitus usually experience stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness in relation to their symptoms.
These conditions produce adverse health effects as well as decrease productivity and decrease quality of life.
Since no definitive cause or cure for tinnitus has been established, most just learn to live with it, feeling hopeless and frustrated.
However, if tinnitus affects you or a loved one, you will be happy to know that managing your tinnitus is possible.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus involves the sensation of hearing sounds that really aren’t there. Most describe the sensation as any or several of the following:
The phantom noise of tinnitus can vary in pitch from a low-toned roar to a high-pitched squeal in either one or both of your ears. Symptoms of tinnitus can advance to such a loud and disruptive intensity that it interferes with your ability to concentrate or to hear external sounds that are real. Ongoing or chronic tinnitus is common for many, but it comes and goes for others.
Hearing professionals identify two kinds of tinnitus.
- Subjective tinnitus (most common) is tinnitus only you can hear. This type results from issues in your outer, middle, or inner ear. It can result from damage to auditory nerves or issues relating to how your brain interprets sounds from auditory pathway nerve signals.
- Objective tinnitus (rare) can be heard by your hearing professional during an examination. This type of tinnitus is often the result of blood vessel problems, issues with bone structures in the middle ear, or muscle contractions (spasms) in and around the auditory structures.
Diagnosing the type and severity of your tinnitus is an essential step in treating or managing the specific issues contributing to your case.
Answers to Your Frequently Asked
Questions About Tinnitus
Q. What causes tinnitus?
Although there are recognized triggers, including exposure to excessively loud noise or a heavy blow to the ear or side of the head, no specific cause for the condition is known. Without a specific cause for tinnitus, a definitive cure for all cases is not available.
Q. Should I see a hearing professional about my tinnitus?
Absolutely! Tinnitus often coincides with hearing loss and other health conditions. Your hearing professional has the qualifications and experience to identify medical conditions and environmental factors contributing to your condition as well as any associated damage to your hearing or hearing loss.
Q. Will a hearing test help to identify my tinnitus?
Yes! Mild hearing loss often coincides with tinnitus. The absence of sounds external to the ear, due to hearing loss, often cause your tinnitus to be more pronounced and intrusive. Diagnosing your hearing loss and the use of hearing aids often reduce the intensity of your tinnitus, improving your quality of life in two ways.
Q. Can you cure my tinnitus?
Without a defined cause, there is no definite cure. Because tinnitus can be the result of other underlying medical conditions, seeking professional help is essential. In addition, management techniques of various types have helped ease discomfort, reduce stress, and/or allow you to sleep in spite of the condition.
Q. Does tinnitus damage your hearing?
No. Severe tinnitus interferes with your hearing but does not cause additional damage to your hearing or lead to hearing loss. In some cases, tinnitus is a symptom rather than a cause of inner ear or auditory nerve damage.
Q. How do I get to sleep if I have tinnitus?
Most of us require silence in order to achieve beneficial sleep. Silence is difficult to achieve due to the buzzing or ringing of tinnitus. Several strategies lead to helping you sleep in spite of your condition by distracting you from tinnitus using low-level ambient noise or white noise, sounds of nature, soothing music, or a combination of several masking sounds designed to reduce your focus on the sounds in your head, so you can drift off.
Q. Can my prescription medications cause tinnitus?
Some prescription medications, known as ototoxic medications are toxic to the ears with the capacity to cause damage to your hearing and balance. Some contribute to the development of tinnitus as well. Ototoxicity usually relates to the specific drug involved, its dosage level, taking two or more ototoxic medications at the same time, heredity, and reduced kidney function. Effects vary in intensity and can be temporary or permanent.
High doses of aspirin and quinine are known contributors to tinnitus as are many NAISDs (ibuprofen, naproxen). Loop diuretics (water pills for blood pressure), aminoglycosides, SSRI anti-depressants, and various anti-cancer drugs in certain doses and combinations are also known ototoxic prescription medications.
Various environmental chemicals and metals in connection with certain medications can also contribute to tinnitus. Consequently, make sure to provide a thorough medical and medication history as well as your living and working environments to your audiologist to help identify possible triggers and treatment options.
Your Tinnitus Is Manageable
A variety of tinnitus management strategies produce positive results for most tinnitus patients. Our experts help you to develop the strategies that are most effective for treating your specific type and intensity of tinnitus. We offer four categories of management, including:
- Treating underlying causes, such as a medical condition or side effects of an ototoxic medication, which reduces or eliminates the symptoms. This is only possible by consulting with a hearing professional or medical professional before pursuing other treatment strategies.
- Lifestyle adjustments can help to reduce your tinnitus to a more manageable level by eliminating various triggers or irritants, including alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine or nicotine, frequent or prolonged exposure to loud noise, and excessive stress.
- Masking helps to distract your focus from the sounds of your tinnitus. A fan, soft music, or even low-volume radio static, white noise, and sounds of nature are among the simpler strategies. More complex strategies include sound matching to cancel out the noise. Many hearing aids provide sound masking while resolving hearing loss issues, which reduces the intensity of your tinnitus.
- Stress management helps to reduce the intensity of your tinnitus. Bio-feedback therapy and counseling, which include coping skills to manage stress, are an effective management strategy for most patients. Medication might be necessary for those individuals with severe stress and anxiety to help increase the effectiveness of stress management techniques.
Schedule a Hearing Evaluation
There are lots of “products” promising a cure for your tinnitus treatment, but most of them are scams that will take your money without providing any benefit. There is no direct assessment for tinnitus so when it comes to managing it the most important step is to schedule a comprehensive hearing evaluation with a qualified, hearing professional rather than pursuing self-diagnosis and self-treatment. Achieving real relief for your tinnitus by using proven management strategies and techniques is easier than ever when you schedule a hearing assessment in the comfort of your home.