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 drives some people to consider suicide.
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 underlying disease such as vascular tumor or acoustic neuroma (a benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops on the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear).
Tinnitus facts: If you have tinnitus you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans show signs of tinnitus. Tinnitus can’t be cured, but we have state-of-the-science Tinnitus programs, and our expert Doctors know their stuff!
Here’s how: Our Doctors of Audiology will assess the effects of your symptoms, and then present options for alleviating those symptoms. The assessment takes up to 2 hours and includes the following:
– a detailed case history to determine how the tinnitus is affecting you
– a comprehensive hearing assessment to determine if hearing problems are related to your tinnitus
– a determination of underlying medical problems, possibly leading to a referral to an ENT specialist to discovery if your tinnitus has a medical cause
– matching the pitch and loudness of your tinnitus to known sounds to help the audiologist counsel you effectively during the treatment phase
– a measurement of your sensitivity to noise masking, and recommendations for managing your tinnitus
The goal of tinnitus management is to “train your brain” to conclude that tinnitus is not important and should be ignored. This process is called habituation, and allows tinnitus patients to overlook the disturbing effects of tinnitus, the same way that many of us have learned to overlook the disturbing effects of a train whistle at night. The ultimate goal is to gain control over your tinnitus.
Tinnitus therapy is highly personalized to account for an individual’s perception of their symptoms. 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 may improve your hearing AND relieve your tinnitus, because better hearing will make it easier to ignore your tinnitus.