80% of people diagnosed with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Often described as ringing, buzzing, hissing, and humming sounds in the patient’s head, tinnitus is a symptom associated with hearing loss rather than a cause. Because of its debilitating effects like stress, insomnia, poor concentration, and mental health breakdowns, finding a way to manage tinnitus is crucial to the overall well-being of Gold Country residents. We hope to provide hope through greater awareness of tinnitus and what you can do about the ringing in your ears.
What is tinnitus?
Somewhere between 10% and 15% of individuals worldwide, regardless of age or background, experience some form of short term or ongoing tinnitus, making it one of the most common global health conditions. Two things about tinnitus that are important to note are that there is no cure for tinnitus, and the condition does not follow a definitive set of rules. Tinnitus symptoms may be constant or may come and go. The type and intensity of the sound experienced varies from one person to the next. The tones heard can be high-pitched, deep, low-pitched, or tones that change pitches. Tinnitus rarely presents in the same way for every individual, making it a challenge to manage it.
What are the causes of tinnitus?
Among the most common explanations for why tinnitus occurs is the Central Gain Theory. This theory proposes that as the brain fails to process certain sounds no longer present due to hearing loss, it compensates by creating the absent sounds inside your head. The condition experienced by amputees known as “phantom limb” provides the closest similarity to what Central Gain Theory proposes. Though there are other explanations, there are some common causes associated with individuals with tinnitus, including:
- Frequent or ongoing exposure to loud music, gunshots, explosions, construction equipment, or machinery
- Ototoxic medications cause damage to hearing, or produce tinnitus as a side effect
- Prebycussis (age-related hearing loss) reduces the number and quality of nerve fibers in the inner ear, leading to sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus
- Blockage due to excessive earwax
- Ears, neck, or head injuries
- Neurological disorders
- Middle ear bone degeneration
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, jaw popping, and upper-respiratory disorders
How can tinnitus be managed?
Many of the techniques, gadgets, and methods claiming to “cure” tinnitus are nothing more than gimmicks. However, there are proven tinnitus management techniques backed by empirical evidence and clinical success. Because it is unique for each individual, not every technique will produce results, so it is often necessary to pursue several options before discovering the one or combination best suited to manage the specific condition. Management approaches can be classified into three categories of treatment.
Stress and Anxiety Management
Because stress and anxiety add to sound sensitivity and worsen the effects of tinnitus, verified stress and anxiety management techniques provide a viable option. The approach usually includes exercise, counseling, medication, coping tactics, improving sleep, eliminating smoking, and other lifestyle alterations.
Masking and Sound Therapy
Though masking, which covers up the internal sounds of tinnitus using external sounds, provides some relief, it will only make matters worse without sound therapy. Sound therapy’s objective is to partially mask tinnitus, allowing part of the sound to remain audible while the patient learns techniques lessen perception and acclimate through habituation.
Since hearing loss and tinnitus have such a close association, hearing aids are considered the best approaches to managing tinnitus. Because digital technology is included in modern hearing aids, users are able to take advantage of connectivity options and apply stress management, masking, and sound therapy technique through smartphone apps, which can integrate with their hearing aids to take advantage of multiple management techniques.
Gold Country Hearing Helps You Manage Your Tinnitus
Not every patient responds to the same tinnitus management technique. However, rather than being taken in by scams that claim to cure tinnitus, your best option to manage the ringing in your ears is to seek professional help. Gold Country Hearing has the expertise and equipment along with proven methodologies to support your commitment to taking control over your tinnitus. If you or a loved one struggles with tinnitus, contact us to have your questions answered or to schedule a tinnitus assessment.