Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, or hissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or all the time? Does the sound bother you a lot? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have (ti-NIGHT-us or TIN-i-tus) and you should see a hearing professional.
Roughly 25 million Americans have experienced tinnitus, a symptom associated with many forms of hearing problems. (It can also be a symptom of other health problems.) Tinnitus is typically caused by:
Recent studies show that 10% to 15% of the US population, or nearly 30 million people, experience chronic or persistent tinnitus. Tinnitus has been shown to have a direct impact on a person's emotional well-being, hearing , and ability to sleep and to concentrate, in turn influencing basic life functions such as socialization and relaxation.
Only a small number of people contact their physicians or hearing care professionals for help with their tinnitus, perhaps due to the widespread belief that tinnitus is incurable or untreatable. Yet there are several methods for treating tinnitus that can alleviate the impact it has on the patient's quality of life.
A large-scale study by the Better Hearing Institute found that the highest rating of treatment effectiveness was achieved by hearing aids (34%) and music (30%), followed by relaxation techniques (10%). Focusing on substantial to complete relief from tinnitus (greater than or equal to 80% of symptoms), hearing aids were rated the highest (27%) followed by music (20%). Approximately 10% of subjects experienced substantial relief of their tinnitus through prescription medication, relaxation techniques, counseling, or a non-wearable sound generator. Herbs or dietary supplements were not shown to be effective in this study.
Information from Hearing Review, November 2011
We carry out a complete hearing assessment including Puretone Audiometry, Tympanometry, Acoustic Reflexes, Otoacoustic Emissions and Speech Discrimination. Specifically for tinnitus assessment we conduct an interview using the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI)to grade the severity of the patient’s tinnitus. Based on your evaluation we will implement the prescribed treatment plan. Management may include the use of hearing aid amplification, sound therapy and /or behavioral modification therapy.
Through our vast experience, we have developed a variety of approaches that provide relief for the majority of our patients. Following is the process for evaluation and treatment.
Because tinnitus can be associated with ear and other anatomical disease, it is imperative that we ascertain what the underlying causes of your problem are. In most cases tinnitus is caused by an underlying hearing loss. Sometimes however it can be caused by other problems that are not appropriate for treatment in the audiology setting. If we find that your case is not suitable for treatment we would refer you to an ENT Specialist to rule out any health-related conditions that could be the cause of your tinnitus or could be treated through medical and/or surgical intervention.
There are many options for treatment with tinnitus dependent on the severity and the underlying cause. In quite a lot of cases correction of a hearing loss with a well fitted hearing aid system will eliminate the tinnitus symptoms. In the cases where this isn't enough we also prescribe sound therapy. Many modern hearing aid devices are combination devices giving amplification and sound therapy. Different types of noises or chime-like sounds can be used with or without amplification to offer relief from tinnitus. Sound therapy will most often be accompanied by education, counseling, and stress reduction. It may also include professionals from other disciplines (i.e., psychology, dentistry, neurology, etc). This new approach is proving to be very successful and is being used more frequently by the hearing professionals in our office
In Cases where there is no hearing loss is or it is not severe enough for treatment. We would prescribe sound therapy devices. Sound therapy has proven to be an effective management tool for many people who suffer from tinnitus that isn't associated with underlying hearing loss.