Currently, tinnitus is the third most common condition in the US. It affects over 50 million Americans and can result from long-term hearing loss or be brought on by a singular event.
Tinnitus develops most commonly in people who spend a lot of time in loud environments. Examples of this would include mechanics, factory workers, and military personnel.
Although, one-time trauma events can also cause tinnitus. Events such as fireworks or gunshots could incur tinnitus and it’s always best to wear hearing protection when participating.
Finding out what caused your tinnitus will help us treat it and hopefully stop the noise that you’re hearing. Tinnitus is unique in that there is no surefire way to stop it, but there are ways to manage it.
Tinnitus is your brain’s response to damage in the ear. It generally indicates a hearing loss. When your brain doesn’t have sounds to process, then it starts to create noise by itself.
This can present itself in many ways, not just ringing. Buzzing, humming, chirping, or even hearing music can all be tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss. These sounds can only be heard by the patient. This is why it’s so important to partner with a professional audiologist.
Having a close working relationship will build trust and confidence. Having this with your audiologist will relieve your stress and allow you to recover quicker.
The Best Way To Stop The Ringing
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus. There have been cases where the condition goes away on its own, but these are rare.
At Audiology Associates, we address the underlying problems to reduce the effects.
A comprehensive hearing assessment is the first step in identifying which treatment will work best for you. Once we have all the data about your hearing, we can implement one of the following.
I recently spoke on air to Bruce Elliot about whether hearing aids can actually help tinnitus. You can listen to the recording below, or continue reading to find out more.
#1 – Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are actually the only treatment option we have for tinnitus. So tinnitus is when we hear a sound in our head, such as ringing, buzzing, or hissing, and whenever you hear that – it’s usually caused by hearing loss.
So in this case, the brain isn’t getting the sensitivity and the sounds it’s used to receiving and so it’s creating those sounds for you. It thinks it’s being smart – although it just results in a huge annoyance and hindrance for a lot of patients.
Through this understanding of how the brain is working to overcompensate for hearing loss, we know that the best way to manage tinnitus is to give the brain back that stimulation it’s missing.
So, we do that in the form of hearing aids and there are a few different ways that we can do that.
One is, is by just treating the hearing loss; the brain then realizes it’s making up sound that it no longer has to.
This is the most popular treatment due to how successful it is. The advanced technology available today allows us to treat specific forms of tinnitus by making custom adjustments to your hearing aids.
#2 – Earwax Removal
This point relates back to hearing loss as the cause of most cases of tinnitus. When we have impacted earwax, this can cause temporary hearing loss which then can develop a ringing or buzzing sensation for patients.
If this is the case for you, then a simple earwax removal appointment should solve your problem.
#3 – White Noise Machines
For more serious cases, we can either drown out your tinnitus sound or distract your brain from creating it with an artificial sound of your choosing. This is similar to the method we use with hearing aid tinnitus masking settings.
#4 – Changing Medications
Disclosing to your audiologist any and all medications you are currently taking is vital. These medications can have side effects that cause tinnitus, and the cure could be as simple as switching them out for a different option.
Medications that are considered “ototoxic” are known to damage the sensory cells located in your inner ear. Please do not stop taking any medication before first consulting with your doctor.
What Are The Next Steps?
Getting a hearing test done is the first step to addressing any hearing issues. Get your hearing tested and be ready to discuss treatment of the hearing loss first through hearing aids.
Often tinnitus patients are resistant to amplification because they do not see the connection between their hearing loss and the resulting tinnitus. There is no cure or magic pill, just working with an audiologist and being open to hearing aids.