What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is commonly referred to as a “ringing of the ear,” but it also appears as different sounds. In addition to ringing, the sounds have been characterized as a whoosh, a pop, a buzz, a clanging, a rush of air, a whistle, a low roar, crickets and many other sounds.
The sounds of tinnitus may be constant or temporary, and may affect one or both ears. While there is no singular cause for tinnitus, treatment options may be available.
Dr. Nikki is one of the few Audiologists in the Southeast trained in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Our clinics are trained in using several therapeutic intervention options that are tailored for each individual in accordance with the audiologic evaluation and their reaction to the tinnitus. To learn more about your tinnitus and treatment options, contact us at Coweta Hearing & Balance Clinic or Fayette Hearing Clinic to schedule a consultation.
Difficulties with Tinnitus
As a distracting and frustrating condition, tinnitus is difficult to predict. The sounds may be chronic or temporary, and one or both ears may be affected. Tinnitus sounds may fluctuate in volume and frequency throughout the day, while at other times, they are gone completely.
Tinnitus has been linked to concentration and memory problems, increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. People suffering from tinnitus might suffer also from sleep deprivation.
There is no single cause for tinnitus, and often it appears in conjunction with another medical issue. Tinnitus might be linked to certain physical ailments such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, Meniere’s disease, or high blood pressure. Certain classes of medications that are ototoxic may harm inner ear hair cells and lead to tinnitus.
In cases where tinnitus is linked to another medical condition, the treatment of that condition might alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. In some cases, a change in lifestyle to decrease stress, cessation of tobacco and alcohol consumption, or a change in diet might help reduce symptoms.
Subjective tinnitus is often linked with hearing loss. The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that 90% of tinnitus cases occur with an underlying hearing loss. It may occur as a natural by-product of presbycusis (age-related hearing loss).
Because hearing loss and tinnitus are closely linked, hearing aid manufacturers offer tinnitus therapy options with their devices. While hearing aids are designed to amplify sounds and improve speech, tinnitus therapy often functions as a sound mask that re-directs your brain away from the frustrating tinnitus sounds.
Hearing Aids with Tinnitus Treatment Options
Hearing aids come with fractal tones (tones that follow a series of small, unrepeated patterns), synthetic tones (white noise) or nature sounds (waves, rain, etc.), which are designed to engage with auditory pathways in the brain and reduce the effects of tinnitus.