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Tinnitus - Ringing in the Ears

Many of our patients with hearing loss also struggle with tinnitus.  You may have heard that there is nothing you can do about tinnitus or that you’ll just have to live with it. But as we hope you’ll learn, there is a big difference between “no cure” and “no help.”

What does Tinnitus sound like?

Some people think tinnitus means “ringing in the ear”.  But in fact, ringing is only one description of the phantom sounds people experience. Other commonly reported sounds include, but are not limited to, hissing, static, screeching, sirens, crickets, whooshing, roaring, pulsing, humming, ocean waves, buzzing, whistling, clicking, or dial tones.

How common is Tinnitus?

Approximately 15%-18% of the world population has tinnitus.

Most people report having experienced a “normal” tinnitus; something which comes and goes on its own (typically less than a minute).

The majority of people with significant tinnitus report that it is constant but may fluctuate from day to day or is influenced by many factors, such as noise exposure, stress, fatigue, etc.

On average 10-20% of people with tinnitus seek medical help.

Reports show that 70-90% of people suffering from tinnitus show some degree of hearing loss when tested, yet nearly 60% are unaware of having any hearing problem.

Is there a cure?

In the majority of cases (95%), tinnitus cannot be cured. BUT… there is a big difference between “no cure” and “no help”

What causes tinnitus?

There are literally hundreds of causes (etiologies) associated with tinnitus, most, but not all are associated with hearing loss.  A good health history, including detailed questions about ears and hearing, can help determine if there might be a cause which should be addressed by your physician.  In addition to these questionnaires, a full hearing evaluation is an important tool in deciding how to manage tinnitus.

How is tinnitus treated or managed?

Treatments are often divided into:

  1. Acoustic stimulation (sound therapy)
  2. Counseling and stress management
  3. Combination approaches

Regardless of the physical cause of tinnitus, some people are significantly bothered by tinnitus and others have very little or no negative reaction from tinnitus. Therefore, management plans for patients struggling with tinnitus are very different for each individual. Most management plans for people who have significant problems with tinnitus include some form of tinnitus therapy.

There are a number of tinnitus therapies in existence.  Most of them have habituation as a goal.

If you are bothered by tinnitus please contact us for an evaluation or consultation, and be sure to visit our resource section to start answering your many questions!