Tinnitus is one the most common ailments in the United States, affecting about one in ten of the adult population. Often described as a subjective condition, it is sometimes difficult for those without it to imagine how it affects those who suffer.
Tinnitus is usually described as a ringing in the ears, but it can also sound like clicking, hissing, roaring, or buzzing. Tinnitus involves perceiving sound when no external noise is present. The sound can be very soft or loud and high-pitched or low-pitched.
It varies from person to person, as some people hear it in one ear and others hear it in both. People with severe tinnitus may have problems hearing, working, or even sleeping.
Tinnitus is a Symptom
Tinnitus, above all, is a symptom. It’s a sign that something is wrong with your auditory system, which includes your ear, the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process sound.
There are a variety of different conditions that can cause tinnitus. One of the most common of these conditions is noise-induced hearing loss.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are effective treatments that can help your manage your tinnitus. The goal of therapy is to help you manage your perception of the sound in your head. There are many treatments available that can help reduce the perceived intensity of the tinnitus and make your life more manageable.
Tinnitus remedies may not stop the perceived sound, but they will almost always improve your quality of life.
The most commons of these treatments is hearing aids. Most people develop tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss. When you lose hearing, your brain changes the way it processes sound frequencies.
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that uses a microphone, amplifier, and speaker to increase external noises. This can mollify changes in the brain’s ability to process sound. With modern technology, hearing aids have developed into handy tools to help you have a seamless hearing experience.
Another standard treatment is the use of a sound masking device. Sound-masking devices provide a pleasant or benign external noise that partially drowns out the internal sound of tinnitus.
The traditional sound-masking device is a tabletop sound machine, but there are also small electronic devices that fit in the ear. These devices can play white noise, nature sounds, music, or other ambient sounds. Most people prefer a level of external sound that is slightly louder than their tinnitus, but others prefer a masking sound that completely drowns out the ringing.
Many use sound machines designed to help them relax or fall asleep. You can also use headphones, television, music, or even a fan.
Some even use customizing sound machines to help treat their tinnitus. Standard masking devices help mask tinnitus sound while you are using them, but they have no long-lasting effects.
Modern medical-grade devices use customized sounds explicitly tailored to your tinnitus. This requires an initial test to be done by an audiologist, but it can often be an extremely effective treatment for tinnitus.
Unlike regular sound machines, these devices are usually only worn intermittently. You may experience benefits long after the device is turned off. Over time, you may experience long-term improvement in the perceived loudness of your tinnitus.
One of the most effective treatments for tinnitus has proven to be behavioral therapy. Tinnitus is associated with a high level of emotional stress. Depression, anxiety, and insomnia are not uncommon in people with tinnitus.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps people with tinnitus learn to live with their condition. Rather than reducing the sound itself, CBT teaches you how to accept it. The goal is to improve your quality of life and prevent tinnitus from ruining your quality of life.
CBT involves working with a therapist or counselor to identify and change negative thought patterns, typically once per week. CBT was initially developed as a treatment for depression and other psychological problems, but it seems to also work for those suffering from tinnitus.
Tinnitus treatment often involves a combination of approaches. Your doctor may recommend medication as part of your treatment. These drugs may help make your tinnitus symptoms affect you less, thereby improving your quality of life. Antianxiety drugs are also an effective treatment for insomnia.
Some antidepressants used to treat tinnitus include clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and protriptyline (Vivactil)
According to the American Tinnitus Association, most cases of tinnitus are caused by hearing loss. Occasionally though, tinnitus is caused by an irritation to the auditory system. Tinnitus can sometimes be a symptom of a problem with the temporomandibular joint. If your tinnitus is caused by TMJ, then a dental procedure or realignment of your bite may alleviate the problem.
Tinnitus can also be a sign of excess earwax. Removal of an earwax blockage may be enough to make mild cases of tinnitus disappear. Foreign objects lodged against the eardrum can also cause tinnitus. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist can perform an exam to check for obstructions in the ear canal.
Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a severe medical condition. Talk to your primary care doctor if you are unable to sleep, work, or hear normally. Your doctor will probably examine your ears and then provide you with a referral to an audiologist and otolaryngologist.
Hearing Associates of Las Vegas is the premier destination for diagnosing and learning to deal with your tinnitus for those in the Las Vegas area. Something as simple as a hearing exam could be the difference between improving your quality of life and continuing to live with a condition that may become debilitating.
During a hearing test, you’ll sit in a soundproof room wearing earphones that transmit specific sounds into one ear at a time. You’ll indicate when you can hear the sound, and your results will be compared with results considered normal for your age. This can help rule out or identify possible causes of tinnitus.
To schedule a hearing test today or get more information about your tinnitus, visit Hearing Associates of Las Vegas today.