Tinnitus is a condition where noise is heard in the absence of external sound. You might experience it as a ringing, buzzing, hissing or whistling in your ear. Occasionally you might even experience it as a lower pitch sound such as roaring ocean waves or a pulsating sound in your ear.
Tinnitus is not a disease or illness, but a symptom generated by the hearing system and your brain. It is most often an indication of an underlying hearing loss but can also relate to other health conditions such as high blood pressure, or the use of certain medications.
Tinnitus is quite common and is experienced by 1 in 10 adults. Most of the time tinnitus will come and go. Unfortunately for some people tinnitus can become very bothersome, interfering with healthy sleep habits, and causing annoyance and even anxiety.
At our practice we treat tinnitus in the following ways:
1. Sound Therapy
People with bothersome tinnitus often report he most annoyance when it is quiet. As soon as the radio or TV is switched on they tend to be less aware of the tinnitus. Think of your radio’s volume while you are driving. As soon as you park the car, the volume tends to be too loud. You did not change the volume, but the volume of the background noise changed. It’s the same with tinnitus. When you increase the volume of ambient noise, the volume of your tinnitus relative to the ambient noise has changed. You then perceive your tinnitus to be less. It is therefore best to out of silence as much as possible. There are several strategies that can help. If your tinnitus is related to a hearing loss, a hearing aid is very effective in managing your tinnitus.
2. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus retraining therapy is a powerful tool we use to treat people with tinnitus- especially those without a hearing loss. We usually have three to four sessions of 30 minutes each. In these sessions the audiologist will give you information on exactly how the auditory system and the brain functions. She will focus on why the tinnitus is present and give you strategies to “train” your brain not to be bothered by the tinnitus anymore.
Knowledge is power, so information is the best thing a tinnitus patient can have to help manage their tinnitus. Remember that tinnitus is not something without a cure. Several strategies can be used to assist you with living your best life. You should not let your tinnitus prevent you from participating in an active lifestyle. Our audiologists are trained in managing tinnitus- speak to one of them about the way forward today.
What causes Tinnitus?
The causes of tinnitus are still not fully known. Here are some common issues
that links to tinnitus:
- Hearing loss: In 90% of cases, a person experiencing hearing loss will have some degree of underlying hearing loss. This can be due to the normal aging of the cochlea, exposure to excessive noise, or temporary hearing loss caused by ear wax or an ear infection.
- Stress and Anxiety can often trigger tinnitus to be perceived louder and more persistent than before. Often a person will have a longstanding history of occasional tinnitus but the tinnitus is exacerbated by a stressful event or situation. Managing stress and anxiety can improve the perception of tinnitus.
- Noise exposure: When you are exposed to excessive noise such as a gunshot or been to a noisy party, your hearing system is damage. Often the hearing system can recover after a period of rest, but the damage is often permanent.
- Medications: Tinnitus is a common side effect of certain medications. Even some of your over the counter, cold medications might cause tinnitus. This can be temporary while the medication is being used. Always first discuss your concerns with your doctor before stopping any medication.
- Head or neck injuries: Always contact your doctor when you experience tinnitus after a head or neck injury.
When is it a cause for concern?
The following situations warrants more immediate medical intervention. Please contact us for an appropriate referral.
- Experience a sudden hearing loss along with your tinnitus.
- Tinnitus after a physical injury to your head or neck.
- Tinnitus that pulses with your heartbeat.
- Tinnitus experienced only in one ear.
- Tinnitus accompanied by ear pain or drainage from your ear.
- Tinnitus accompanied by Vertigo or dizziness.
- Severe feelings of anxiety or depression brought along by your tinnitus.
Why choose Experience Hearing for your hearing care?
HPCSA Registered Audiologists
Real Ear Measurements
Medical aid tariffs
Finance options available
Better Hearing Health Care
Ready to take your hearing health into your own hands? Call our office today to schedule a visit with one of our hearing care professionals. With a variety of hearing technology available, we’ll find the right fit for you!