Tinnitus Management at Walker Hearing Clinic
What is Tinnitus?
The American Academy of Audiology refers to tinnitus as “the perception of sound in the ear that is not the result of an external sound”. It is commonly described as a “hissing, roaring, or ringing” in the ear. It can be high pitched or low pitched, tonal or noise-like, and constant, pulsed, or intermittent. You may experience tinnitus in one ear, both ears, or in your head. Tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom of underlying issues elsewhere within the body. It can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a lifetime.
Types of Tinnitus
There are two types of tinnitus.
- Subjective Tinnitus – This is the more common form of the two types. It can only be heard by the sufferer. It is normally associated with hearing loss.
- Objective Tinnitus – This can be heard by someone else but it is much rarer than subjective tinnitus. Your GP or Audiologist may be able to hear the tinnitus with the use of a stethoscope. These noises are produced by the workings of the body. Objective tinnitus is sometimes curable, whereas subjective tinnitus is often not.
Causes of Tinnitus
- Presbyacusis – In older people, tinnitus is often caused by natural hearing loss (presbyacusis) which lessens the sensitivity of the hearing nerves. However, tinnitus is starting to affect a growing number of younger people as a result of the general increase in noise levels in today’s society.
- Stress – The British Tinnitus Association says that although it is not always clear whether stress causes the onset of tinnitus, or if stress is a contributing factor of tinnitus, it is common for tinnitus to start at times of high stress or after a period of stress. It is also common for existing tinnitus to become worse during stressful periods.
- Medication – Certain types of medication have been known to cause symptoms of tinnitus. If you experience tinnitus and are on regular medication, make sure you speak to your GP to rule out your medication as a contributing factor.
Who Can Help Me?
If you are a tinnitus sufferer, you will have to visit your Doctor or Audiologist to get diagnosed correctly. You may be referred to a clinical Audiologist or ENT department to rule out any degree of hearing loss.
What Can I Do To Rid Myself Of My Tinnitus or Suppress It?
In most cases, tinnitus cannot be cured. However, it can be managed. There are certain treatments that are found to help suppress tinnitus depending on the patient including:
- Hearing Aids – Hearing loss is common in tinnitus sufferers and, as such, hearing aids are effective because they can be used to mask the various different types of tinnitus sounds while simultaneously helping to counter act your hearing loss.
- Sound Therapy – Tinnitus is much more noticeable in quiet environments due to the lack of background noise. Sound therapy masks the tinnitus with another sound source (eg: sound generators or certain types of hearing aids) which can distract you from your tinnitus.
- Cognative Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a one on one counselling session or talking type therapy. It can help you to change your negative perceptions about your tinnitus into positive and realistic perceptions allowing you to function well and go about your life. This method tries to reduce your stress levels which can subsequently lessen the severity of your tinnitus as tinnitus itself can be caused by stress and not rooted in a hearing loss.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) – TRT is one of the newer forms of tinnitus therapy. It can be described as a process that teaches you how to cope with your tinnitus on both a conscious and sub conscious level. Essentially, it combines all three of the methods outlined above to help ease your suffering.
Useful Links for more information on Tinnitus