Tinnitus is the ringing, hissing, buzzing, chirping, roaring, and other head noises that affect well over 48 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Tinnitus can be associated with conditions that occur at all levels of the auditory system including noise induced hearing loss, ototoxic medications, Meniere’s disease, circulation disorders, otosclerosis, ear infections, wax impaction, certain chemotherapeutic agents, strong antibiotics, thyroid problems, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
Tinnitus affects people of all ages, however as many as thirty percent of seniors age 65-90 have tinnitus.
Tinnitus may be a constant noise or intermittent and for many people it can be debilitating. Every person with tinnitus is unique and some people adjust to the head noise and many others never get used to it.
For those who suspect they have tinnitus, it is important to first get your hearing evaluated by an Audiologist certified by ASHA (The American Speech Language Hearing Association) to determine your present level of hearing acuity as well as a tinnitus evaluation. During the appointment, patients can discuss how the tinnitus affects their sleep, work, and if the sound fluctuates or changes. At present over 60% of the seniors who have tinnitus also have hearing loss.
Tinnitus Treatment Options
There are some tinnitus treatment options which do require an investment of time and personal effort to be effective. There has been some information on alternative treatments such as herbal preparations such as acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen, and even hypnosis that have been used with varying results. Reducing or avoiding caffeine and salt intake has helped many relieve their tinnitus symptoms, while others have used behavioral and cognitive therapies.
For example, Allison Aubrey discusses one study of the effectiveness of mindfulness training for tinnitus sufferers. She highlights how the program helps people develop a choice of how to respond to their tinnitus.
Tomasz Synalski discusses the importance of breaking the cycle and “not giving your tinnitus attention,” which makes the noise seem louder. He has great information that can help individuals refocus their attention and to break the cycle to regain balance in their life.
There has been considerable evidence that sound therapy is one of the most effective methods of treatment for people with tinnitus. As a Clinical Audiologist, I have had the opportunity to evaluate several tinnitus products on the market and the results have been highly variable. There is a lot of new innovative technology that is available to help people not only hear better, but to provide some relief of tinnitus.
As a reminder, if you are working with a person who is having difficulty concentrating because of tinnitus, be sure to encourage them to make an appointment with a Clinical Audiologist. If they have difficulty getting to a clinic due to mobility issues or otherwise, quality mobile Audiology services are available within the Chicagoland area. For more information about hearing health issues please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Tinnitusguy for the photo.