(photo courtesy creative commons: Shanghai killer whale)
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head where no external source is present. Although commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears”; people hear a variety of sounds such as: chirping, hissing, buzzing, roaring, whistling, clicking and more. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant-with single or multiple tones-and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering. If you have Tinnitus you are one of 50 million people in the United States that suffer from Tinnitus. Of those, 16 Million have sought medical attention for their Tinnitus; and 2-3 million people are completely disabled from it.
Tinnitus can be caused by many things. One of the most common causes is exposure to excessively loud sounds such as: a rock concert, gunshot, fire cracker, explosion, etc. Other causes might be head and neck trauma, ear wax build-up, ear infections, jaw misalignment (TMJ), and ototoxicity. It is important to discuss your particular Tinnitus situation with qualified health professionals such as an Audiologist, Otologist, or Otolaryngologist to make sure there are no underlying medical concerns causing the Tinnitus.
The following things can make Tinnitus worse: Loud Noise, Caffeine, Nicotine, Medications, Anti-biotics, Quinine, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen. If you stop drinking coffee, and stop eating chocolate your Tinnitus just might go away.
Unfortunately there are no cures for Tinnitus. However there are some things that can be done to help manage it. Relaxation Techniques have been known to relieve Tinnitus by reducing the amount of stress in your life. When stress is high the ringing often becomes more noticeable.
Nutritional Supplements may help. Zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, Gingko Biloba, homeopathic remedies, anti-oxidants, and a product called Ring Stop have been known to offer relief for some people.
Drugs have been used to relieve Tinnitus although there is no drug that is specifically designed to do so. Anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, anticonvulsants, and anesthetics have successfully quieted Tinnitus for some patients. TMJ Treatment may help if the Tinnitus sufferer has jaw joint (TMJ) dysfunction. Muscles and nerves in the jaw are closely connected to those in the ear and can interfere with the ears nerves resulting in Tinnitus.
Sound Therapy uses sound to decrease the loudness of the Tinnitus. Wearable or non-wearable devices generate sound to completely or partially cover up the Tinnitus. This is referred to as masking. It is recommended that this go along with counseling. Some people use sound generators at night so they can listen to something other than their head noises when they are trying to fall asleep. Others keep the radio on at night.
Amplification (Hearing Aids), a form of Sound Therapy, can offer relief while wearing the hearing aids by amplifying the ambient environmental sounds that naturally cover the Tinnitus. In addition, some hearing aids come with a Tinnitus management program. Tinnitus sufferers can now find relief in a combination hearing instrument that can help in teaching the brain to ignore unwanted sounds. Recently several hearing aid manufacturers have introduced products to help relieve the tinnitus so many people are suffering from. Look forward to our next article discussing some of those options that are available today.
A HIghly effective way of Managing Tinnitus ReSound, the technology leader in hearing aid solutions, has introduced a combination hearing instrument to its Verso TS product line. Verso TS combines an advanced hearing aid with a Tinnitus Sound Generator (TSG). The TSG is used to administer sounds that make the disturbing Tinnitus noise less noticeable, drawing your attention away from it. This is a common approach in Sound Therapy. Verso TS “helps change the way you respond to Tinnitus by diverting your attention away from it ” said Michael Piskosz, M.S., ReSound. “This kind of sound therapy, when combined with informed counseling, is recognized as a highly effective way of managing Tinnitus.”
Much of this information came from the American Tinnitus Association website .
By Susan L. Fenrich, BC-HIS, Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist, Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences