How To Live With Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no external sound present. It is often described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, clicking humming, or swooshing sound in the ears. Some people describe it in the head, rather than the ears. Others hear music, sometimes a specific song is heard over and over. More than 25 million American adults complain of tinnitus, some constant, others intermittent. 99% of tinnitus is subjective or only perceivable to the individual. Less than 1% have noises audible to others. These usually come from internal functions such as blood flow or musculoskeletal movement. 

Tinnitus can be caused by some medications. It may also be a symptom of Meniere’s disease or sensorineural hearing loss.  Mental health issues can be both a contributing factor and a consequence of tinnitus. People often notice tinnitus more at night when it is quieter around us.  

Tinnitus may fluctuate and you may find triggers that exacerbate the sound. I personally live with constant tinnitus and have found stress to be the biggest factor in increasing the loudness of my tinnitus. By learning to control your stress levels, you may notice your tinnitus is less bothersome. Diet can also affect tinnitus. Caffeine and salt intake may worsen your symptoms, while a balanced diet rich in minerals and vitamins may reduce them. Tinnitus may disrupt sleep, and lack of sleep may make it louder.  

Hearing aids can play a role in managing tinnitus. Hearing your environment better can help distract you from the internal noise. Additionally, most hearing aids have built in maskers/sound generators. This is a feature I use. My hearing aids make a sound that reminds me of waves crashing on the shore. It is a very soothing sound and a much nicer sound than my ears make! While it does not eliminate my tinnitus, I notice it far less when I am using my hearing aids. 

Unless your tinnitus is related to a treatable condition, it is likely not going away, but there are things we can do to help you manage it and live with it. You should always discuss the onset of tinnitus with your physician. A hearing evaluation is the next step.  Once we have a picture of your hearing, we can discuss ways to manage your tinnitus.  To schedule an appointment at one of our 10 locations in Tampa Bay, please contact us at 800-277-1182 or info@gardneraudiology.com    

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