Tinnitus is an annoying sound in one or both ears that is frequently described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, whooshing or clicking. It is extremely common, affecting about 20 percent of the population. For some people, it is a mild distraction, while others find it a great nuisance that interferes with their daily routine.
Tinnitus is defined as a symptom rather than a condition. There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed effectively through a variety of treatments. Treatment depends on the cause.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of conditions. It is typically associated with:
- Noise exposure
- Foreign objects in the ears
The first thing your Silicon Valley Hearing audiologist will do is try to confirm the cause of your symptoms. If determined, the solution may be as simple as removing excess earwax or switching to a new medication.
In some cases, the exact cause may be a mystery, or the condition responsible for tinnitus may be untreatable.
Unlike other practices, we will never tell a patient that their tinnitus is something they just have to live with. Instead, we recommend a multidisciplinary approach, focused on making the unwanted sounds less bothersome.
The most widely accepted and successful method of treating tinnitus involves the use of sound-based therapy. Sounds can be used in various way to help lessen the annoyance of tinnitus. Various types of sounds are explored during the therapy session in order to help the individual determine what kind of sound provides relief. Figuring out which types of sound therapy provide the best relief can take some time and patience.
The goal of sound therapy is to stimulate the auditory system and draw attention away from the tinnitus. For those with hearing loss, hearing devices are the treatment of choice. For those with normal hearing sensitivity, simple sound relief apps on a smart phone can be streamed softly through headphones or ear-level worn devices can be fitted and customized with various sound profiles.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
A newer approach known as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy combines counseling and education with sound therapy.
Patients will learn about the causes and effects of tinnitus and different strategies for coping. They will also learn how to use low-level sound generators, which produce soft tonal patterns that encourage the brain to shift its focus away from the sounds associated with tinnitus.
Hearing aids are another useful tool in treating tinnitus. Patients who wear these devices can simply turn up the volume to mask distracting background noises.
Some patients report positive results using natural remedies such as gingko biloba, zinc or niacin, though clinical studies are inconclusive.
Lifestyle changes can also be implemented. Meditation, mindfulness and relaxation can
reduce or eliminate stress, which can trigger tinnitus. Following a healthy diet and sticking to a regular bedtime routine may also help.
Tired of suffering from bothersome tinnitus? Call (408) 540-7128 to schedule an appointment.