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Tinnitus

What you should know about tinnitus

Dealing with constant “ringing in the ears?” Maybe it’s not ringing exactly. Some people describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping. Whatever noise it is, the real issue is something called tinnitus. 

Tinnitus (“TIN-a-tus” or “Tin-EYE-tus”) is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head when no external sound is present.

The important thing to know is that tinnitus is not a condition or a disease. Instead it’s a symptom – typically of something bigger, like an ear infection, high blood pressure or, most commonly, hearing loss. 

Quick Tinnitus Facts

  • Tinnitus is the number one disability for military veterans.
  • Tinnitus can occur at any age, and may begin suddenly or progress gradually.
  • The most common causes of tinnitus are:
    • Noise exposure (e.g., from shooting or machines at work)
    • Aging
    • Head injury
    • Side effects from medication

It is also important to know that everyone’s tinnitus is different, which is why finding relief has been so elusive – until now!

What Treatments are Available for Tinnitus?

There is no universal cure for tinnitus, but there are treatment options that make it less of a distraction. Because tinnitus is a side effect of an underlying condition, identifying the problem may lead to a medical or surgical solution. The cure rates for pulsatile tinnitus (hearing your heartbeat) are quite high once the problem has been identified. Symptoms of tinnitus can often be managed successfully through a number of different strategies.

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What you should know about tinnitus

Dealing with constant “ringing in the ears?” Maybe it’s not ringing exactly. Some people describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping. Whatever noise it is, the real issue is something called tinnitus. 

Tinnitus (“TIN-a-tus” or “Tin-EYE-tus”) is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head when no external sound is present.

The important thing to know is that tinnitus is not a condition or a disease. Instead it’s a symptom – typically of something bigger, like an ear infection, high blood pressure or, most commonly, hearing loss. 

Quick Tinnitus Facts

  • Tinnitus is the number one disability for military veterans.
  • Tinnitus can occur at any age, and may begin suddenly or progress gradually.
  • The most common causes of tinnitus are:
    • Noise exposure (e.g., from shooting or machines at work)
    • Aging
    • Head injury
    • Side effects from medication

It is also important to know that everyone’s tinnitus is different, which is why finding relief has been so elusive – until now!

What Treatments are Available for Tinnitus?

There is no universal cure for tinnitus, but there are treatment options that make it less of a distraction. Because tinnitus is a side effect of an underlying condition, identifying the problem may lead to a medical or surgical solution. The cure rates for pulsatile tinnitus (hearing your heartbeat) are quite high once the problem has been identified. Symptoms of tinnitus can often be managed successfully through a number of different strategies.

  • Acoustic therapy. Sounds are used to cover up, or mask, the tinnitus. This distracts your brain and helps you “tune out” the ringing in your ears. Electronic devices that produce white noise, air conditioners, fans, soft music, etc. can all be employed.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy. Similar in concept to acoustic therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy utilizes a portable sound generator that produces soft patterned tones to help desensitize the brain to the sounds of tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids. Hearing loss causes maladaptive neuroplastic changes in the brain. Hearing aids are used to stimulate the auditory pathways received by the brain. Background sounds can mask tinnitus. Hearing aids can also help the patient better distinguish one sound from another, improving communication and helping with focus and concentration difficulties. Many devices also include noise generators to replace ambient sounds if amplification alone does not reduce tinnitus.
  • Counseling. Counseling, sleep, cognitive behavioral or relaxation methods can be practical in helping you manage your tinnitus symptoms by reducing the stress, anxiety and sleeplessness that are often associated with tinnitus. Our audiologist will provide appropriate methods to help you manage your tinnitus.

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