Tinnitus affects roughly 20 percent of the American population. Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound where none is actually occurring. Its impact on our quality of life ranges from a minor nuisance to a major impediment and the perceived sound may be temporary or persistent. Many describe the sound as ringing, chirping, whooshing, roaring or thumping, but tinnitus is any sound perceived but not present.
Tinnitus is a symptom, and as such is associated with many other conditions. While tinnitus is most often associated with ear damage or hearing loss; tinnitus can be a sign of a more serious health condition. Common causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, noise exposure, head or neck trauma, high blood pressure, vascular disorders, heart conditions, ototoxic medications, acoustic neuromas and earwax. Those at greatest risk for tinnitus are smokers and men over 40 years old.
Since tinnitus is most often a sign of an ear or related disorder, consult with your ear and hearing professional for a detailed health history, ear and hearing evaluation, risk identification and medication review. If the source of your tinnitus is determined to be ear related, Heuser Hearing Institute can help. If other medical conditions are considered, we may refer you to an otologist, cardiologist, neurologist or other healthcare provider.
If the tinnitus is a result of ear or hearing damage, treatment may range from recommendations of lifestyle changes to use of ear level sound devices. Lifestyle changes typically include reducing salt intake, reducing caffeine consumption, increasing exercise and avoidance of quiet sound environments. At night, implementation of a sound machine can help patients fall asleep. Heuser Hearing Institute’s audiologists have recommended several products that can help with tinnitus that are available on our Amazon store.
For patients that have tinnitus that does not respond to lifestyle changes or tinnitus with hearing loss, noise generators or hearing aids with a tinnitus prescription may be recommended. Noise generators or hearing aids work by introducing, or re-introducing; sounds to the patient’s ears which allows the brain to focus on the sounds it has been missing instead of the sound of the tinnitus. Along with hearing better, the patient often experiences a significant reduction in the tinnitus if not complete elimination. At Heuser Hearing Institute, we offer hearing aids with the option for tinnitus management because we know that the impact, or annoyance, from tinnitus can change over time, and patients with hearing loss are at greater risk of experiencing bothersome tinnitus.
Tinnitus can range from frustrating to disabling. It can be a sign of both benign and serious health conditions, so it is first important to be evaluated to find a cause, or at least eliminate serious health conditions. Then, with treatment options ranging from lifestyle changes and apps found on your telephone all the way to ear level intervention, there is a solution for everyone. If you are someone you know has been experiencing tinnitus, then please schedule an appointment with one of Heuser Hearing Institute’s doctors specializing in management of “ringing” ears by calling (502) 584-3573.