If you are part of the 50-million Americans who have some tinnitus, you might be looking for methods to help reduce the impact. Tinnitus can be a range of phantom sounds heard in the ear and is more prolific where there are no external sounds. It can be experienced as clicking, ringing, buzzing, static noises, roaring, swooshing or whistling. In some cases, tinnitus can also be experienced as music.

The sounds can be experienced intermittently, only occasionally or constantly – and it also presents at different volumes too.

What makes tinnitus quite unlike many other hearing issues is that there is no cure; instead, there are many methods used in a management program to help reduce the issues for the person with tinnitus. One of the most significant forms of relief for those who have tinnitus is the use of hearing aids.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term used to describe sounds like buzzing, ringing, or swooshing in the ear – when there is no other external noise present. Tinnitus can present differently for different people. It can also be experienced as:

  • Whistling
  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring

Although it most often tinnitus is referred to as ringing in the ears. Since the sound doesn’t come from an external source, it can also be called a phantom sound. You can have tinnitus in one or both ears, and it can arise in any age group, but it becomes more common as we get older.

Tinnitus can also be both objective and subjective, meaning that on occasions, the tinnitus is heard by others due to an abnormal blood vessel. It is the objective tinnitus that can be heard by others, and this is a rarer version. Subjective is the most common, and those with tinnitus only hear the sound.

What Causes Tinnitus?

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is when there is damage in the middle or inner ear. Damage to the eardrum, the bones in the middle ear or the hair cells that transmit sound can alter how the brain processes sound.

When a person has regular and prolonged exposure to loud noises above 85 decibels like saws, lawnmowers, vehicles and other heavy equipment and doesn’t use hearing protection, this can cause temporary tinnitus. Some medications have been shown to cause some hearing damage and tinnitus, like chloroquine, gentamicin, vincristine, bumetanide and large doses of aspirin.

Head and neck injuries, high cholesterol, Meniere’s disease, age-related hearing loss and occasionally too much earwax.

Amplification

One of the biggest impacts that a hearing aid can make on tinnitus is that tinnitus can be a symptom of hearing loss. And in this case, the amplification can make a significant improvement. The amplification of external sounds means that the internal tinnitus sounds can be partially ignored. With the use of a hearing aid, you can hear more of the environment around you. It can either distract you from or drown out the sounds of tinnitus.

Another way that the amplification of external sounds can help is that it may stimulate the pathways that have begun to atrophy due to disuse via hearing loss.

Conversation

One of the most important ways to communicate can become more difficult when people have tinnitus. Tinnitus can interfere with how you interpret and hear the conversation. Often the combination of hearing loss and tinnitus can cause people to become isolated. When they have a hearing aid fitted, it gives them the opportunity to carry on a conversation much easier.

Being able to converse with co-workers, friends and family will allow the person with tinnitus to experience less stress in social situations. The reduction of stress is important since stress can be a huge trigger for tinnitus.

Brain

Over time when our brains aren’t processing sounds correctly, our brains can become stressed, fatigued and begin to atrophy. When a person with tinnitus is fitted with the right hearing aid, the brain will be stimulated. This can keep the audio processing centers of your brain healthy and flexible. Less stress on the brain may minimize some of the tinnitus symptoms.

Hearing aids can drastically improve the life of someone who has tinnitus, and they can also be a vital part of the management plan. Often, several methods like audio masking, regular check-ups, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hearing aids can work in unison for a positive outcome.

There is no cure for tinnitus, so these methods are incredibly important; if you want to discuss your hearing health, call Quality Hearing & Audiology Center at 816-233-0022.

Tags: tinnitus management, tinnitus prevention