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TINNITUS – THE END OF QUIET MOMENTS?

Tinnitus is the perception of sounds that have no external source. The severity of tinnitus varies from an occasional awareness of ringing, hissing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, or other rough sounds in one or both ears, to an unbearable and incessant noise that drives some people to consider suicide.

Tinnitus isn’t a “phantom sound” or “condition” — it’s a symptom of an underlying medical problem, such as noise trauma, age-related hearing loss, ear injury, or disease of the circulatory system.

Tinnitus is relatively common, but in rare cases it can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, such as a vascular tumor or a slow growing acoustic neuroma (a generally benign tumor that forms on the vestibular nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain).

Tinnitus facts: If you have tinnitus you aren’t alone. More than 50 million Americans have tinnitus symptoms. 9 in 10 patients with tinnitus also have hearing loss, and 1 in 5 patients find the symptoms hard to endure. 10-15% of Americans experience chronic troublesome tinnitus, lasting more than 6 months.

Tinnitus is frequently caused by prolonged exposure to loud sounds from industrial, recreational, or military noise, or from a sudden impulsive sound from an explosion, gunshot, etc. Tinnitus can also be caused by ear injuries, cardiovascular disease, age-related hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, medications (aspirin, certain antibiotics, diuretics, chemotherapy), ear or sinus infections, misaligned jaw joints (TMJ), head and neck trauma, and Meniere’s disease.

Auditory Pathways and tinnitus. Sound waves travel through the ear canal to the middle and inner ear, where sensory hair cells in the cochlea help transform the sound waves into electrical signals. (See the figure) The electrical signals then travel through the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex of the brain, where they are processed. When hair cells are damaged (figure inset)  by loud noise or drugs known to cause hearing loss, the brain doesn’t receive the signals it expects. This stimulates abnormal neuron activity, which causes the illusion of sound, or tinnitus.

What are the consequences? Tinnitus causes fatigue, stress, sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, memory problems, anxiety and irritability, and trouble with both work and family life. The degree to which tinnitus invades a person’s life depends on the volume, frequency, and duration of the perceived noise, and on the emotional reaction provoked by that irritation. Tinnitus is no laughing matter; the fear and depression associated with tinnitus can destroy a person’s well-being.

Tinnitus can’t be cured…but it can be managed! Our Doctors of Audiology have the knowledge and training to help you manage your tinnitus. They will assess the personal impact of your symptoms, and then present options for alleviating those impacts. The initial assessment takes 2 hours, and guides us in determining the best therapy for you.

The goal of tinnitus management is to “train your brain” to ignore tinnitus sounds as unimportant. This process is called habituation, and empowers tinnitus patients to overlook the disturbing emotional trauma of tinnitus, in the same manner that many of us have learned to overlook the disturbing effects of a train whistle at night. Other tinnitus remediation therapies include sound therapy, which can be supplied by smart phone apps through hearing aids.

Tinnitus therapy is highly tailored to account for your perception of symptoms and their disturbing impacts. There is no “one size fits all” therapy! Effective treatment strategies generally focus on counseling, sound therapy, relaxation, and stress-reduction methods. If you have tinnitus AND hearing loss, hearing aids can improve your hearing while relieving the negative impact of your symptoms, and this can help restore your quiet moments!

Dr. Li-Korotky, AuD PhD is a Gold member of the American Tinnitus Association

Tinnitus: The End of Quiet Moments

Tinnitus is the perception of sounds that have no external source. The severity of tinnitus varies from an occasional awareness of a noise (ringing, hissing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, or rough sounds) in one or both ears, to an unbearable and incessant sound that causes a variety of psychological stresses.

Tinnitus isn’t a “phantom sound” or a single disease, but a symptom that can be associated with many causes and made worse by other factors.

Tinnitus is relatively common, but in rare cases it can be a symptom of serious disease such as vascular tumor or acoustic neuroma (a benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear).

Tinnitus facts: If you have tinnitus you aren’t alone. More than 50 million Americans have signs of tinnitus. 9 in 10 patients with tinnitus also have hearing loss, and 1 in 5 patients find the symptoms hard to endure. 10-15% of Americans experience chronic tinnitus, lasting more than 6 months.

See our Brochure on Tinnitus, here

Fall Health & Wellness Fair in Bend OR

Pacific Northwest Audiology was an exhibitor at the Health & Wellness Fair on September 24 at the Bend Senior Center. Vendors included service providers, health and wellness practitioners, fitness experts, nutritional counselors, and medical professionals.

Highlights of the event included:

  • Educational Presentations
  • Oregon Lion’s Club Mobile Screening Unit
  • The Strollin’ Colon Interactive Display
  • Diabetes Testing
  • Glaucoma & Visual Acuity Testing
  • Community Barbecue
  • Flu vaccinations and much more

The show provided a great opportunity for Dr. Li-Korotky to interact with and answer questions for hundreds of people about many aspects of hearing health…including hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Meniere’s disease (balance disorder), hearing aids and assistive listening technology.

The photos show Dr. Li-Korotky (Audiologist) and Stephanie Roberts (Front Desk Manager) interacting with numerous people interested in hearing health.

Fall Design & Outdoor Living Show in Bend OR

Pacific Northwest Audiology was an exhibitor at the Central Oregon Builders Association Remodeling Design & Outdoor Living Show at the Athletic Club of Bend, Oregon on September 21-22. The show had hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees…making this year’s event a huge success.

The show provided a great opportunity for Dr. Li-Korotky to interact with and answer questions for hundreds of people about every conceivable aspect of hearing health…including hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Meniere’s disease (balance disorder), hearing aids and assistive listening technology tropical inflatable water slide.

Our congratulations to Ron Robbel (left) the winner of our drawing for Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. The winning card was pulled out of a well mixed box late Sunday afternoon by our next door neighbor at the show, Brent Olsen, the President of Sales of VACUFLO, seen above, with Dr. Li-Korotky.

The photos show Dr. Li-Korotky (Audiologist) and Stephanie Roberts (Front Desk Manager) interacting with interested (and interesting) people.

Tinnitus…The Assault on Quiet Moments

The following article will appear in the ‘Welcome to Hearing Health’ section of Bend Life magazine this coming June. Dr. Li-Korotky writes a monthly column for Bend Life.

Introduction

Tinnitus is the perception of sounds that have no external source.

The severity of tinnitus varies from an occasional awareness of a noise (e.g., ringing, hissing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, or rough sounds) in one or both ears, to an unbearable and incessant sound that drives some people to consider suicide. Tinnitus isn’t a single disease, but a symptom of an underlying condition. Tinnitus is not a ‘phantom sound’. There is real neural activity in your brain associated with tinnitus.

How Does Tinnitus Influence Quality of Life?

Depending on the severity, tinnitus can promote a wide range of negative lifestyle effects, including fatigue, stress, sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. It can also interfere with hearing and cause emotional distress. In extreme cases, tinnitus can fuel depression and thoughts of suicide.

Who Gets Tinnitus?

The American Tinnitus Association estimates that more than 50 million Americans have some degree of tinnitus problems, and approximately 12 million people having symptoms severe enough to seek medical care. Tinnitus is a significant reality for 27% of those between the ages of 65 and 84, and 4 out of ten tinnitus sufferers experience tinnitus most of the day. Tinnitus is the most common service-connected disability among U.S. veterans.

What Causes Tinnitus?

According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), noise exposure (including hazardous levels of industrial, recreational, or military noise) is the largest cause of tinnitus. Other conditions linked to tinnitus include ear injuries, cardiovascular disease, age-related hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, medications harmful to the ear (aspirin, certain antibiotics, loop diuretics, chemotherapy), ear or sinus infections, misaligned jaw joints (TMJ), head and neck trauma, Meniere’s disease, or an abnormal growth of bone of the middle ear. In rare cases, slow-growing tumors on auditory, vestibular, or facial nerves can cause tinnitus.

How is Tinnitus Evaluated?

If you are having trouble with tinnitus, visit a well-qualified audiologist. The audiologist will conduct a comprehensive assessment and advise you of the most effective management options to alleviate the symptoms of your tinnitus.

A full tinnitus assessment takes 1.5-2 hours and includes 1) a detailed case history to determine how the tinnitus is affecting you as a person, 2) a comprehensive hearing assessment to determine the characteristics and possible causes of your tinnitus, 3) Tinnitus pitch-, intensity-, and loudness-matching tests to help the audiologist counsel you effectively during the treatment phase, 4) measurement of your sensitivity to noise masking, and 5) recommendations for managing your tinnitus. If audiometric tests suggest an underlying medical condition such as an acoustic neuroma (a benign, slow growing tumor along the hearing nerve), the audiologist will refer you to an ENT physician.

Can Tinnitus be Treated?

Treatments generally focus on counseling to reduce (manage) negative emotions and reactions to tinnitus, utilizing sound therapy, relaxation, and stress-reduction techniques. Hearing aids may be helpful for people who have hearing loss along with tinnitus. It is important to note that there are no current treatments that will eliminate tinnitus with any consistency, and no drugs have been approved specifically for the treatment of the condition. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be used to treat conditions that coexist with tinnitus, such as anxiety and depression.

About the Author:

Dr. Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky is a Gold-level Professional member of the American Tinnitus Association, and the President of Pacific Northwest Audiology, based in Bend, Oregon. The Doctor is a nationally acclaimed clinician and research scientist, with AuD, PhD, and MD credentials and more than 100 scientific publications. Pacific Northwest Audiology offers a full spectrum of Tinnitus evaluation and management services.

Spring Home and Garden Show in Bend, OR

Pacific Northwest Audiology was an exhibitor at the Central Oregon Builders Association Spring Home and Garden Show in Bend, Oregon on May 3-5. The show had hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees…making this year’s event a huge success.

The show provided a great opportunity for Dr. Li-Korotky to interact with and answer questions for hundreds of people about every conceivable aspect of hearing health…including hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), Meniere’s disease (balance disorder), hearing aids and assistive listening technology. Dr. Li-Korotky also gave a seminar on tinnitus on Sunday at the education booth…attended by 6 very interested people.

Our congratulations to Michelle Oliver, the winner of our drawing for Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. The winning card was pulled out of a well mixed box late Sunday afternoon by our next door neighbor at the show, Jerry Rudloff of Tower Garden (top left).

The photos show Dr. Li-Korotky (Audiologist) and Stephanie Roberts (Front Desk Manager) interacting with interested (and interesting) people.

Tinnitus Awareness Week – May 19-25 2013

Pacific Northwest Audiology joins with the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) to recognize Tinnitus Awareness Week


Established in 1927, May has since been known as “Better Hearing and Speech Month” – a time to raise national public awareness, knowledge and understanding of speech, language and hearing disorders. To complement ATA’s year-round advocacy efforts, each year we set aside a week in May to focus specifically on increasing public awareness about tinnitus and most importantly the need for increased funding for tinnitus research.

What You Should Know About Tinnitus

These facts were collected by the American Tinnitus Association:

  • According to data analyzed from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus (and millions more worldwide); of those, 16 million have sought medical attention for their tinnitus and 2-3 million are completely disabled from their tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus is most often the result of noise exposure; either from a single impulse (extreme) noise, or cumulative exposure to noise. Head and neck injury are the second leading known cause of tinnitus and this cause is on the rise in military and veteran populations.
  • According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), tinnitus is the #1 service-connected disability for veterans accounting for over 840,000 individuals and the cost to compensate veterans for tinnitus is over $1.28 billion annually.
  • In the United States, economic loss to an individual who has tinnitus can be up to $30,000 annually and up to $26,000,000,000 to society as a whole.
  • In 2012, between all public and private funding in the U.S. combined, approximately $10 million was spent on tinnitus research.
  • Sixty percent of all cases of auditory injury, including tinnitus within the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran population were the result of a blast-induced mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI).
  • A recent Department of Defense study on Iraq service veterans conducted by the San Diego Naval Medical Center found that 70% of those exposed to an explosive blast reported tinnitus within the first 72 hours after the incident; 43% of those seen one month after the incident continued to report tinnitus.
  • 30 million workers are at risk for tinnitus from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) from hazardous noise on the job.
  • The Centers for Disease Control report that nearly 13% of children ages 6-19 (5 million in the U.S.) already have some form of NIHL. This means they may also have tinnitus or they are at greater risk for developing tinnitus.
  • According to the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health, 85 decibels for 8 hours is considered to be “safe,” meaning it is unlikely to do damage.

Sounds Levels and Exposure Limits

If you are exposed to sounds above 85 dBA…you need to protect your hearing with earplugs, earmuffs, or other ear protection

Dr. Li-Korotky is a Professional-level Gold member of the American Tinnitus Association. The Doctor is President of Pacific Northwest Audiology (www.pnwaudiology.com) in Bend OR, and provides a wide range of tinnitus evaluation and management services