Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or originating from the head when no sound is being produced in the environment. For some, tinnitus is a nuisance, for others it is a life altering experience.
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, exposure to loud sound, earwax buildup or blockage, head or neck injuries, medications, stress, depression, or a benign tumor of the hearing nerve.
How is Tinnitus Evaluated?
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, our audiologists will conduct a complete medical history, as well as a complete diagnostic hearing evaluation and tinnitus evaluation.
In addition to the diagnostic hearing evaluation, the tinnitus evaluation includes special tinnitus questionnaires, measurements of how loud your tinnitus is, what pitch your perceive it to be, and if your tinnitus can be effectively masked.
What Treatments are Available?
A common treatment for tinnitus is sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus. About 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it because their brains process it and file it as another everyday noise. Many sound therapy strategies try to teach your brain how to process the noise so that it doesn't bother you anymore (or not as much).
Also, if a hearing loss is diagnosed that can be treated with hearing aids, hearing aid wearers report a reduction in the tinnitus when using hearing aids. This is because the brain is perceiving sounds not generally heard due to the hearing loss and less perception is place on tinnitus.
Many hearing aids today have advance tinnitus features allowing the audiologist to program in various sound therapy programs to address tinnitus.
Medications may be an option, especially if they are to treat an underlying condition and relieve its symptoms. However, no medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of tinnitus
Because tinnitus can be life-changing and hard to deal with, especially when it is a chronic problem, a tinnitus support group may also be of help.