Tinnitus and Your Hearing
Tinnitus is a medical condition in which patients hear ringing or other noises in their ears when no external sound is present. Some people experience these sounds intermittently while others experience the sounds or noises 24 hours a day. Different types of sounds or noises may be heard such as: hissing, roaring, pulsing, whooshing, chirping, whistling, or clicking. The pitch of the noise may also vary from a low roar to a high squeal. The “phantom “noise may also be heard in one or both ears. In some cases the sound can be so loud it can interfere with one’s ability to concentrate or hear actual sound. It is estimated that approximately twelve million Americans have some form of Tinnitus and of those one million suffer so severely that it interferes with their daily routine. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), almost 12 percent of men 65 to 74 years of age are affected by Tinnitus. It is most frequently identified in Caucasians and is more prevalent, almost twice as much, in the South than in the Northeast.
Almost every person at one time or another has experienced short-lived periods of mild ringing or other sounds in their ears. The exact cause of Tinnitus is often not known or able to be identified. It is not imaginary. It is not a disease, but just as a fever or headache is a symptom of many different illnesses, tinnitus can be a symptom accompanying many other health problems.
Conditions that can cause tinnitus might include:
- Hearing loss
- Meniere’s disease
- Loud noise exposure
- Migraine headaches
- Head injury
- Drugs or medicines that cause hearing problems
- High blood pressure
- Extreme amount of wax in the ear
- Excessive amounts of coffee
The first thing you should do is try to find the underlying cause of your Tinnitus. You should also get a full hearing evaluation to see if hearing loss is the cause. You may want to consult with a hearing specialist for your hearing evaluation. This evaluation may help to provide information about the cause and possible treatment options for your Tinnitus. Although Tinnitus cannot be measured directly, your hearing specialist will rely on the information you provide. You may be asked to describe your condition in specific ways by answering some questions such as:
- Which ear is involved?
- Is the ringing constant?
- Do you notice it more at certain times of day or night?
- Can you describe the sound you hear?
- Is it high pitched or low?
- Is there a change in the pitch or volume over time?
- Are there times when the sound gets worse?
- How disruptive is this condition to your daily and nightly schedule?
Once more is known about the possible causes of your Tinnitus, possible options for you may be suggested. One such option may be a hearing aid. Advanced Hearing Systems offers exceptional service in a caring environment to provide you with as many options as possible for your hearing health.
There has been clinical evidence that has shown two benefits from using hearing aids for the management of Tinnitus. The first benefit is that the Tinnitus sufferer becomes less aware of their condition. The second benefit is that communication is improved by reducing the annoying, unwanted sound, and uncovering the sounds and voices you want to hear. With the amplification of sound that hearing aids can provide, external sounds can actually stimulate the auditory nerve to reduce the interfering Tinnitus sound. There may even be a positive long-term effect on the auditory nervous system which can provide lasting restoration of neural function.
It is recommended that hearing aids should be fitted to both ears. Using an open ear aid with the widest amplification, and disabling noise reducing controls, has been found to be the most effective. In some cases a combination hearing device would be preferable, if there are multiple hearing problems to be addressed. For the best results, include not only the use of devices, but expert care from hearing specialists in the fitting and customization of these devices to your specific needs. This is our specialty at Advanced Hearing Systems. We strive to achieve solutions that are best suited to our patient’s needs.