If you’re experiencing ringing in the ears, you’re one of millions living with tinnitus, an audiological and neurological condition where sound is perceived but not actually present. Tinnitus can manifest itself as ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing and clicking. In extremely rare forms of tinnitus, patients can experience what seems to be music playing.
Two forms of tinnitus are subjective and objective.
1. Subjective: With this type, only the patient “hears” noises. This form of tinnitus is usually caused by hearing loss. Over 99% of patients with tinnitus are those with the subjective form.
2. Objective: Not only the patient experiences sounds, but others perceive them as well. With this form, sounds are created in the circulatory and somatic body systems. This form is rare and only makes up less than 1% of tinnitus reports.
Other than hearing loss, tinnitus can also be caused by head and neck trauma, ear infections, and in some cases mean a serious medical issue is present (such as brain injury, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.). So far, there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are options to help make living with tinnitus a little easier (studies have shown patients with tinnitus have experienced insomnia, anxiety, and depression due to a downfall in their quality of life). These options include:
1. Sound therapy: An audiologist uses external noises to cover the tinnitus. Background music and white noise aids in this form of treatment. Hearing aids are also helpful, as they help the patient focus upon other noises rather than the ones caused by tinnitus.
2. Tinnitus Retraining: An audiologist “trains” your auditory system to adapt to the sounds experienced from tinnitus. The patient wears a special device that releases white noise sounds at a low auditory level.
3. Changing your habits. Although this may not greatly improve your tinnitus, every little bit helps. Exercising, dieting, getting a good night’s sleep, handling stress, quitting smoking, etc., all lead to a better quality of life. When subjected to noisy environments, be safe by wearing ear plugs or headphones.
If your tinnitus is becoming unbearable, call us today at Lifetime Hearing.