Ringing In The Ears
If you suffer from Ringing in the ears, read more about possible help.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or in the head when no external source is producing that sound. It is most often described by persons as a “ringing” in their ears but may also be perceived as a hissing, clicking, buzzing, or roaring, like steam escaping, or like the ocean sound in a conch shell. It is a widespread condition; research suggests that approximately 18% of the world’s population have tinnitus, and the American Tinnitus Association estimates that more than 50 million Americans have tinnitus. Tinnitus often results from a history of unprotected loud noise exposure in an occupational or recreational setting. Such exposure can result in temporary and/or permanent hearing loss, but the first indication that damage to the neural structures of hearing has occurred is often the characteristic “ringing in the ears” of tinnitus, before the individual is even aware of a change in hearing. Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss of any cause. Therefore it can be experienced from an ear wax impaction in the ear canal, or during an ear infection, or may occur due to a perforation of the tympanic membrane. It often accompanies the common decrease in hearing associated with the aging process. There are over 200 medications that can cause tinnitus as a potential side effect. Tinnitus is benign in nature and can be experienced as simply a mild distraction or annoyance, but for a small percentage of tinnitus sufferers, it can have a debilitating impact affecting daily activities. It is most often disturbing in very quiet environments in which no other sound is present to distract from it. Therefore, it can interfere with sleep or relaxation, and interfere with concentration when reading or working. For some individuals, it leads to anxiety or depression.
What Tinnitus Sounds Like
Tinnitus itself is not a hearing problem, but rather is believed to be a neurologically-based condition. Research suggests that auditory damage, usually in the ‘inner ear’ or cochlea, but possibly in other portions of the hearing system, leads to altered neuronal activity in the auditory neural pathways, which the auditory cortex portion of our brain then interprets as sound (ringing, buzzing, etc.). These sounds become a focus of conscious attention, meaning that we become aware of it and focus on it. This focused attention to the presence of tinnitus engages our limbic and autonomic nervous systems, creating a self-reinforcing cycle that can manifest as anxiety or depression.
Treatment of tinnitus has traditionally centered on three methods: (1) Wearing of hearing aids that amplify external sounds so that the perception of the tinnitus is reduced while the aids are worn; the tinnitus will return within seconds to hours following removal of the aids; (2) Wearing of tinnitus maskers which are worn like hearing aids and generate masking noise to ‘cover up’ the tinnitus; with the return of the tinnitus within seconds to hours following removal of the maskers; and (3) therapy procedures such a Neuromonics and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy which serve to combine sound generators of some form with counseling to desensitize the individual to their tinnitus, changing how the individual perceives the tinnitus sound. Essentially, the procedures target the neurological process of tinnitus in its auditory, attentional, and emotional aspects.
Advertised natural or homeopathic remedies for tinnitus such as lipoflavinoids or ginkgo biloba have been studied for their effectiveness in relieving tinnitus. Research has shown that these substances offer no more than a placebo effect on tinnitus.
Kaczmarski Hearing Services offers both evaluation and treatment of tinnitus. We will carefully evaluate your otologic and hearing history, perform a comprehensive hearing and tinnitus evaluation, determine candidacy for hearing aids, fit you with appropriate digital hearing aids if indicated, and determine candidacy for Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment.
Neuromonics is a non-invasive approach that has been cleared by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration). The treatment is designed to provide a significant long-term reduction in tinnitus disturbance and awareness. Treatment occurs over a six-month period and is administered by Kaczmarski Hearing Services audiologists.