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Yearning for the Sound of Silence: Help for Tinnitus Sufferers

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Tinnitus can make people feel like they live in a different world from others because they hear things others don’t. Tinnitus is generally defined as a ringing in the ears, but can be experienced as a buzzing, humming, clicking, roaring, whooshing, pulsing or chirping when no external noise exists for the sound.

The Canadian Academy of Audiology reports that approximately 600,000 people in Canada suffer from Tinnitus. Symptoms can range in severity from irritating to debilitating, and include fatigue, stress, sleep irregularity, concentration issues, memory problems, depression, anxiety and irritability. Approximately only  4% of Tinnitus sufferers seek treatment, in part because few people understand what treatment options exist.

Getting treatment for Tinnitus can be a daunting process, but more often than not, the relief of treatment makes the process worthwhile. The first step in treating Tinnitus is to rule out accompanying hearing loss. So while many think the tests are unnecessary, it’s important to be patient while going through the steps to treatment.

If hearing loss is present, many hearing aids offer relief from Tinnitus by amplifying useful sounds and masking the Tinnitus itself. In other cases, specialty hearing aids can help deal specifically with Tinnitus. Other coping and relief strategies to discuss with your practitioner include:

1) Stress management techniques: the inner ear is sensitive to restricted blood flow that may be accompanied by increased blood pressure and stress. Learning to identify stress triggers and practicing specialized coping methods can help.

2) Watch for dietary triggers. Many people react adversely to very common foods and though a typical allergic response may not be present, increased Tinnitus sounds may occur from your diet. Try to keep track of what environmental, personal or dietary situations you may have been in just prior to elevated Tinnitus symptoms.

3) Use background noise generators to help alleviate the Tinnitus. As part of Tinnitus habituation therapy, you can learn to create environments for yourself that minimize the symptoms of Tinnitus. Background noise, like rainfall sounds, waterfalls and other types, can help. Many different machines are available.

4) Explore additional alternative therapies, like acupuncture, massage and other options, but be sure to include your practitioner and/or physician in the decision to use them

5) Protect your hearing. Since loud noise can damage hearing and make tinnitus worse, always remember to protect your hearing in noisy environments.

6) Don’t give up! With patience and perseverance you can find the right combination of technology, therapies and methods to manage your Tinnitus.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tinnitus, or want help in dealing with it, please contact us.

Tim Goshulak BC-HIS

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