Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ear or ears when no sound is present. It may be a ringing, buzzing, or whistling sound. It may sound like steam or crickets. Some perceive the sound to be in their ears, others feel it is in their head. Tinnitus is not a condition or disease, but rather a symptom that may be caused by one of many underlying conditions. Hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, infection, traumatic brain injury, and tempomandibular joint disorder are just a few causes of tinnitus. Some medications have tinnitus as a side effect. Because some medical conditions can cause tinnitus, it is important to discuss the symptoms with your physician. You should also never stop a medication that has been prescribed for you without discussing it with your physician. It is estimated (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) that 15% of the population are affected by tinnitus. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatment options.
Some people are less bothered by tinnitus and others are very distressed by the sound. Each individual copes differently. Some only notice the sound occasionally, others say they only hear it at night when trying to fall asleep. Some people hear the sound all the time. Some complain that the sound varies from day to day, without consistency. Some can tune it out; others are focused on the sound. Most notice it more when they are tired or do not feel well. Stress is a common trigger. Most people can help themselves cope better by changing how they react to the sound. Sometimes using relaxation techniques or meditation can help. Some use biofeedback or hypnosis. Tinnitus retraining therapy is yet another option.
Often, when hearing loss is present, using hearing aids helps to mask the internal noise. Some hearing aids have built in noise generators that also mask and distract from the internal noise.
Just as every person reacts differently to tinnitus, there is not one solution for everyone. The Doctors of Audiology at Gardner Audiology would be happy to sit down and discuss your options. Please call 1-800-277-1182 to schedule a consultation.