Improving your hearing to improve your life

Understanding Tinnitus


Tinnitus is an abnormal perception of a sound which is reported by patients that is unrelated to an external source of stimulation. Tinnitus is a very common disorder. It may be intermittent, constant or fluctuant, mild or severe, and may vary from a low roaring sensation to a high pitched type of sound. It may or may not be associated with a hearing loss.

Tinnitus (literally “ringing” in Latin) is characterized by ringing, buzzing, or noises that originate in the ear or the head, and can cause discomfort and stress.

Though this condition is usually not dangerous, it can be a symptom of another health problem or underlying condition. Tinnitus can cause so many stressful side effects, including fatigue, sleep problems, concentration difficulty, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Though it's not necessarily serious, it can be quite debilitating.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom arising from a range of underlying causes. 

Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things from certain medications to a variety of health problems, some of them not under your control, such as simply aging. Your audiologist will take a detailed history of your symptoms, perform a hearing test and if needed refer to an ENT physician for detailed explanation of health, medications, and/or conduct other tests of the auditory system.

Possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Earwax buildup
  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • Stress and depression
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
  • Long-term aspirin use
  • Emotional distress

In some cases, the exact cause of the tinnitus may never be discovered, but serious underlying conditions can be ruled out.

What may affect my tinnitus?

Lots of different things can trigger tinnitus, but it is most often caused by loud noise that damages the delicate cells of the inner ear. Alternately, stress, high blood pressure and even excessive earwax can set off tinnitus. Some days your tinnitus may be worse than it is on other days. That could be because you are tired, stressed, or your system is low on resistance due to other factors such as illness.

Whether it’s a great concert or a plane taking off, exposure to loud noise can damage your hearing.

Coffee, dark tea, cola, and energy drinks all contain caffeine, and people with tinnitus say eliminating them helps control tinnitus.

Stress from difficult life circumstances can affect your entire body, including your hearing.

Excessive use of alcohol and quinine water, found in the ‘tonic’ used in many mixed drinks, can trigger tinnitus.

Smoking narrows the blood vessels that bring oxygen to the sensory cells of your ears. 

High doses of aspirin and NSID pain relievers are a known trigger for tinnitus, as are some antibiotics and anti-depressants.

High blood pressure can increase tinnitus symptoms, so people with tinnitus should cut down on salt. 

How is Tinnitus Treated?

Tinnitus sometimes resolves on its own; however, it is important to note that there is not one treatment that will work for everyone. If you suspect that you may be one of the many faces of tinnitus, your first step is to undergo a professional evaluation. Counseling with an experienced hearing health care professional trained in managing tinnitus improves your chances of success in regaining your quality of life. The effects of tinnitus can often be minimized by a combination of counseling and sound stimulation.

Small devices for your ears that amplify environmental sounds and make your tinnitus less noticeable. Many people with tinnitus also have some hearing loss, so the sounds generated by their nervous system in the form of tinnitus seem very loud. In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely, but they may make it less noticeable and ease your stress and anxiety from it.
Tinnitus maskers are additional features that can be added into the hearing aids and programmed according to your specific needs. 
Stand-alone, noise-generation devices that can play various sounds to reduce tinnitus.
Yoga and meditation have proven to be particularly effective tools of relief.

Hearing aids and Tinnitus

Many people with tinnitus also have some hearing loss, so the sounds generated by their nervous system in the form of tinnitus seem very loud. By amplifying natural environmental sounds and the sounds of nature, a hearing aid can make the unpleasant ringing of tinnitus less prominent. In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely,  but they may make it less noticeable and ease your stress and anxiety from it. Speak with your audiologist about the best tinnitus treatment option for you.

Zen Therapy treatment by widex

There are many theories on how to manage tinnitus but we have seen success using the ZEN Therapy treatment by Widex.

When the tinnitus is affecting your daily activities or sleep, the brain needs to be able to let go of the annoyance.  Then ZEN tones in the devices are inspired by the relaxing effects of music. It plays random, chime-like tones that can be used for relaxation and for making the tinnitus less noticeable. Stress is named as one of the most common factors involved with tinnitus, it is vital in tinnitus therapy to reduce the stress for effective tinnitus management. 

For more information on The ZEN pleased click on the following link…