Understanding Tinnitus: Everything You Need to Know
Many people have experienced ringing in their ears before — perhaps after being exposed to some loud noise or music. This sensation is called acute tinnitus and is generally temporary. However, when a person suffers from this irritating sound in their ears for extended periods, it is referred to as chronic tinnitus.
According to recent statistics, 20% of people with chronic tinnitus have troublesome symptoms that interfere with sleep, hearing, and concentration, and which can also lead to depression and anxiety. At Living Sounds Hearing Centres, we have worked with clients who suffer from tinnitus and we understand how debilitating this condition can be. Here are some essential facts about tinnitus so you are prepared to seek out proper treatment.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a noise that can occur in one or both ears. These types of noises can vary or change and include sounds like buzzing, ringing, whistling, hissing, and more. Even though it seems evident that loud noise can contribute to this condition, it actually has many potential causes.
The most common are loud noise exposure and aging, but it can also occur due to earwax blockage, Meniere’s disease, high blood pressure, head or neck injuries, smoking, stress, and certain medications.
What are the two types of tinnitus?
There are two major types of tinnitus, which are subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus.
Subjective tinnitus is the most common type where only the patient can hear the sounds. Since it cannot be objectively heard, patients will report their symptoms through questionnaires, such as the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI).
Objective tinnitus is when a person with a stethoscope or in close proximity to the client’s ear can also hear the tinnitus sounds.
At the end of the day though, either type of Tinnitus can be acute (temporary) or chronic, lasting for an extended period of time.
How do you prevent tinnitus?
The best way to prevent tinnitus is to avoid excessively loud noise and to protect your hearing by wearing ear protection when loud noise exposure cannot be avoided. To do so, you can wear earplugs or protective earmuffs when you are around loud noises. Even if you have acute tinnitus from time to time, it may be your body signalling that some damage to your hearing has occurred.
According to HealthLink BC, a regular conversation is 60 dB, whereas a loud concert is 120 dB. Noises above 85 can cause harm — it all depends on how long you have been listening to them or whether or not you used protective hearing items, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
When to Seek Help With Tinnitus
If the tinnitus you experience lasts more than a week, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your family doctor. They will evaluate your symptoms and you may be referred to an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor or to a Hearing Care Provider for further testing.
If tinnitus becomes a chronic condition, certain lifestyle adjustments may alleviate the symptoms. It is essential to get adequate sleep, limit your caffeine intake, and reduce stress when you are trying to reduce the effects of tinnitus. According to some research, relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation can also help. Recent research has also discovered that meditation and mindfulness can help minimize depression, anxiety, and chronic pain experienced when someone is coping with tinnitus.
If your tinnitus continues to bother you despite these lifestyle changes, there are other ways to treat this condition. Here are some of the most common courses of treatment:
Since many patients with tinnitus also experience hearing loss, it makes sense that the first course of treatment would be a hearing aid. When you hear things better in your environment, it can avert your attention from the tinnitus. Because of leading hearing technology — like the kind we offer at Living Sounds Hearing Centre — many devices are useful for reducing the annoying noises caused by tinnitus.
Here at Living Sounds, we offer hearing aid products that utilize sound stimulus to help soothe the irritation of tinnitus ringing that you may be hearing. With the help of your Hearing Aid Professional, you’ll be able to choose from a wide range of tinnitus relief sound options and choose what suits you best. You can choose natural sounds, and also control the volume at which you’ll be hearing the sounds through the day to help you better cope with your tinnitus.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective evidence-based practice that can help people with tinnitus cope with their condition. CBT has proven to be successful for many issues like tinnitus, depression, anxiety, and sleep conditions.
CBT helps clients learn to manage the stress that comes along with living with tinnitus and helps them create strategies to deal with their uncomfortable symptoms.
A specific branch of CBT, called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), uses meditative techniques with CBT to minimize anxiety for clients and can be effective in treating tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
TRT works by training your brain into thinking the noises coming from tinnitus are normal. An Audiologist, who has been specially trained in delivering TRT can provide this type of treatment.
Even though this treatment has been proven to be effective, the process can take some time. You’ll also be required to wear a device that produces low-level noise. However, the success rate is quite positive: 75% of people with tinnitus experience relief after 18 months.
Although there is no cure for tinnitus, you can manage the symptoms by making changes to your lifestyle and enlisting the help of trusted health partners to support you in finding treatments that work for you.
At Living Sounds Hearing Centre, we know that hearing loss or tinnitus can impact your quality of life. Our team of experts wants to find solutions that work for you! We take a personalized approach to build a customized treatment plan that fits your unique situation and budget.
To learn more about tinnitus and how it impacts people, call Living Sounds Hearing Centre at 1-800-232-7289 or contact us here.