Tinnitus and Solutions

What is Tinnitus?

 

Tinnitus (TIN-i-tus) is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is present.  A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus is usually a result of an underlying condition, such as various types of hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.

Roughly 25 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, in some cases, the tinnitus may be so severe that it interferes with daily activities even causing stress, difficulties with concentration, and sleeping problems.  The good news is tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.  Contact Audiology & Hearing Center of Tampa if you believe you are suffering from tinnitus. 

 

What causes Tinnitus?

  • Hearing loss.  Most people with hearing loss also have tinnitus.

  • Exposure to loud noise.  Noises from heavy machinery and firearms may cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Portable music devices can also cause noise-related hearing loss if played loudly for long periods.

  • Ear bone changes.  Stiffening of the bones in your middle ear (otosclerosis) may cause hearing loss and tinnitus.

  • Medications.  Many medications can cause or worsen tinnitus.  Consult with your physician or a pharmacist if you are concerned about your medicine causing tinnitus.

  • Other potential causes.  Acoustic neuroma, Meniere’s disease, TMJ (temperomandibular joint) disorders, head and neck injuries, and blood vessel disorders can cause tinnitus.

 

Tinnitus Treatment

 

The effect of tinnitus can be dramatic, causing a disruption with your work life, social life, and even your ability to rest and relax.  At Audiology & Hearing Center of Tampa, we offer innovative and FDA-approved tinnitus treatment.  Many of our patients report life changing results with our approach for tinnitus treatment. 

 

The first step to treating your tinnitus is to see an Audiologist for a complete audiological evaluation.
Treatment may include:

 

  • Hearing devices. These devices can provide improvement in hearing as well as masking the tinnitus.  Most patients find complete or partial relief from their tinnitus with the use of hearing aids.

  • Maskers.  These devices, worn similar to hearing aids, produce a continuous low level white noise that suppresses tinnitus.  Most effective when used with Tinnitus Retaining Therapy.

  • White noise machines.  These devices produce simulated environmental sounds, such as rain forest or ocean waves, to cover up the tinnitus.  Many patients also use fans or radios to help them fall asleep or get better rest.

  • Tinnitus retraining.  Counseling is an important component of tinnitus retraining.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists.  We would be glad to provide a more detailed and personalized evaluation for your situation.

Is tinnitus common?

 

According to the American Tinnitus Association (click here to go to the American Tinnitus Association website, do I need their permission?), about 50 million Americans (approximately 15% of the general population) experience tinnitus.  Up to 2 million Americans consider their tinnitus debilitating; thus, reducing their quality of life. 

What should I do if I have tinnitus?

 

If you are suffering from tinnitus, schedule an appointment online to meet with one of audiologists (click here to the About Us page).  We would be glad to provide a more detailed and personalized evaluation to your situation.

 

How is tinnitus measured?

 

Tinnitus is generally subjective, but there are clinical ways to measure its audiometric qualities.  Our audiologists also use specific tools designed to measure and quantify the impact of tinnitus on the patients.  The first step is a complete audiological evaluation. 

An audiological evaluation includes:

Pure tone audiogram: Measures the softest sound the patient hears across multiple frequencies (measured in Hertz) and volumes (measured in decibels).

Speech recognition test: Measures the softest level the patient hears and can repeat certain words.

Word discrimination test: Assesses how well the patient recognizes the words being heard at a comfortable loudness. 

Tympanogram: An objective test that measures the functioning of the middle ear, specifically the mobility of the tympanic membrane and the conduction bones.

Acoustic reflex testing: An objective test that measures the contraction of the middle ear muscles in response to loud sounds.

 

While there is currently no way to objectively test for tinnitus, these testing protocols are used to measure the patient’s subjective perception of tinnitus:

 

Tinnitus sound matching: Measuring the pitch in Hertz and loudness in decibels closest to the patient’s perceived tinnitus.  Sound matching provides an important baseline for subsequent tinnitus management therapies, which are often customized for each patient.

 

Minimum masking level: The volume at which an external narrowband noise masks (or covers) the perception of tinnitus. Determining the minimum masking level provides an approximate measure of how loud a patient perceives his/her tinnitus and can be used in subsequent tinnitus masking and sound therapies.

Loudness discomfort level: The volume at which external sound becomes uncomfortable or painful for a tinnitus patient. This measurement informs the feasibility of sound therapy, masking, and hearing aids as potential tinnitus treatments. Determining loudness discomfort levels is particularly important for patients with hyperacusis, an extreme sensitivity to noise.

 

In addition to the above protocols, these are some of the tools used to quantify the patient’s personal reaction to tinnitus:

  • Tinnitus Handicap Inventory

  • Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire

  • Tinnitus Functional Index

  • Tinnitus Severity Index

 

What is Ménière’s disease?

 

Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe vertigo, tinnitus hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear. Ménière’s disease usually affects only one ear.  Ménière’s disease can develop at any age, but it is more likely to happen to adults between 40 and 60 years of age.

 

Do the over-the-counter tinnitus treatments work?

No.  The over-the-counter substances are generally herbal remedies or vitamins and they do not work in the treatment of tinnitus. 

The effect of tinnitus can be dramatic, causing a disruption with work life, social life, and even the ability to rest and relax.  At Audiology & Hearing Center of Tampa, we offer innovative and FDA-approved tinnitus treatment.  Many of our patients report life changing results with our approach for tinnitus treatment. 

If you are suffering from tinnitus, schedule an appointment to meet with one of our audiologists.  We would be glad to provide a more detailed and personalized evaluation for your situation.

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