Tinnitus is a unique condition that affects the hearing of roughly 25 million Americans nationwide. There are short-term cases and long-term cases which both result in the patient usually experiencing some kind of noise that only they can hear.
These noises are most commonly described as ringing, hissing, buzzing, clicking, or even whistling to name a few. In short-term cases, episodes can last for seconds or minutes.
Long-term cases can last much longer and can cause other medical conditions, including cognitive decline, anxiety, frustration, and depression.
It is our duty to inform and educate patients about their options and how to improve their life with tinnitus.
Causes & Preventive Measures
While tinnitus still raises some questions in the medical community and currently there is no definitive cure, we can be sure that these conditions increase a person’s chances of experiencing tinnitus.
- Loud noise events above the decibel level of a motorcycle
- Prolonged exposure to loud noises
- Head trauma
- Side effects from ototoxic medication
- Mild hearing loss that is left unattended for a long period of time
These are not the only ways to get tinnitus. Unfortunately, there are some physical conditions that can promote tinnitus as well.
Although not completely curable, with knowledge and expertise, tinnitus can be managed and our patients can lead a happy and fulfilling life. We have many options when caring for patients and here are just a few:
Hearing Aids — By introducing new sounds to a patient that is not used to hearing, we can quell the irritating noises produced by tinnitus.
Sound Generators — For more serious cases, we can introduce completely new sounds to wash out the ringing. Wind, rain, and waves crashing ashore are all much more pleasant. In some cases, the patient can be fit for a hearing device that achieves both improved hearing and added sound generation.
Reducing Stress — Stress can magnify many medical conditions and tinnitus is not immune. Reducing stress can lessen the intensity of the intrusive sound and may even improve other medical conditions as well.
Counseling — Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or acceptance and commitment therapy, (ACT) helps many individuals learn how to limit the attention given to tinnitus sounds along with techniques to better manage the stress and anxiety caused by the condition.
Managing Tinnitus Through Sound Therapy
One effective method of managing tinnitus is through sound therapy. This approach involves using external sounds to help reduce the perception or awareness of tinnitus sounds, ultimately helping to provide relief and improve the quality of life for those affected.
Sound therapy can be used in conjunction with other treatment options, such as hearing aids or counseling, to create a comprehensive tinnitus management plan.
There are various forms of sound therapy available, including:
Broadband Noise: This therapy uses white noise, pink noise, or other similar sounds to mask the tinnitus sound. These noises can be played through a sound generator or a smartphone app, helping to create a more soothing and pleasant listening environment.
Notched Music Therapy: This therapy involves listening to music that has been altered to remove the specific frequency of the tinnitus sound. The idea is that by listening to this modified music, the brain can become more habituated to the tinnitus sound, eventually reducing its perception.
Bimodal Stimulation: This approach combines both sound and touch stimulation to help the brain rewire itself and reduce the perception of tinnitus. It usually involves playing a specific sound while simultaneously applying gentle electrical stimulation to the skin.
Resources and Support
The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) is a valuable resource for individuals experiencing tinnitus, as well as their loved ones. The ATA is dedicated to promoting awareness, providing support, and advocating for research to find more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for tinnitus. They offer a wealth of information on their website, including educational materials, coping strategies, and access to support networks.
Visit the ATA website to find resources, such as:
- In-depth information about tinnitus, its causes, and potential treatments
- Guides for managing tinnitus through various self-help techniques and coping strategies
- Access to a network of tinnitus support groups, both online and in-person
- A directory of tinnitus healthcare professionals who can provide guidance and treatment options
- Updates on the latest tinnitus research and clinical trials
While tinnitus can be a challenging condition to live with, it’s essential to remember that it is often manageable with the right care and determination.
By exploring various treatment options, engaging in self-care practices, and utilizing resources like the ATA, many individuals can effectively reduce the impact of tinnitus on their lives, allowing it to fade into the background.
Always consult a professional audiologist or healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan tailored to your unique situation.
For more information about tinnitus treatment and services, visit Aim Hearing & Audiology Services’ tinnitus service page.
The team at Aim Hearing & Audiology Services is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for individuals experiencing tinnitus, offering expert guidance and support to help you manage your condition and improve your quality of life.