Have you ever left a concert or club and heard a ringing in your ears? Well, that ringing sound is called tinnitus. Tinnitus, is actually, the perception of a ringing, roaring or hissing sound in your head or ears and it can be temporary or permanent. Tinnitus is usually related to some kind of hearing problem and is an extremely common symptom associated with hearing loss and stress. In fact, 15% of the general population report tinnitus, but only 10-20% of those tinnitus sufferers need and seek medical attention. Tinnitus occurs because the brain tries to compensate for the lack of proper stimulation from the ear and also because the emotional system gets stuck on this annoying sound and cannot tune it out.
Our understanding and how we treat tinnitus has evolved and changed greatly. In the past, when tinnitus sufferers have reported tinnitus to their physician the message has been “there is nothing we can do for you” or “you have to learn to live with it”. Audiologists now know that although there isn’t a cure for tinnitus, there is help. There is a big difference between no cure and no help. As hearing healthcare professionals, Audiologists are able to provide information, counseling, and sound therapy to our patients in an effort to help them manage their tinnitus. We now have strategies, techniques, and procedures to help reduce the annoyance of these unwanted sounds in a natural manner. For example, hearing aids with tinnitus programs have been documented to help mask the tinnitus, reduce the difference between the tinnitus and silence, reduce fatigue and stress, and provide proper stimulation to the ear and brain. Our patients are reporting that even though we haven’t changed their tinnitus, their perception of their tinnitus is greatly reduced.
If you have tinnitus, please contact your Audiologist to discuss what treatments they can offer you.