What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus occurs when people hear noise in their ears and there is no external noise actually present. Tinnitus noises can sound like ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling and/or clicking in the ears. This condition affects more than 50 million Americans in all age groups.
The exact cause of tinnitus is still unknown, but what is known is that it is not a disease or illness. Rather, most researchers agree that tinnitus results from either a physical or mental change. While it is not necessarily related to hearing, about 98 percent of people with hearing loss also experience some form of tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be a temporary (acute) or ongoing (chronic) condition and symptoms can range from mild to extreme and, in some cases, debilitating.
There are two general types: subjective and objective.
- Subjective tinnitus is the most common, affecting 99 percent of all patients suffering from this condition, and it is characterized by hearing noises that only the patient can detect. It is most commonly related to hearing loss, traumatic noise exposure, stress and many other factors.
- Objective tinnitus affects only one percent of patients suffering from tinnitus and occurs when the patient can hear head or ear noises that are related to body functions near the ear, such as blood flow and/or muscular contractions.
Can Tinnitus be Effectively Treated?
There is no medically-proven cure for tinnitus at this time. However, the condition can be managed and treated. Our audiologists at The Hill Hear Better Clinic stay up-to-date on the latest research and treatment methods and can help you get back to living your life.
One of those treatment methods is an FDA-approved technology and treatment plan that can help restore proper stimulation in the brain. Designed for patients with or without hearing loss, studies show that the treatment may help alleviate the effects of tinnitus in some patients.
Our audiologists have the most success easing patients’ tinnitus symptoms by fully investigating the root of the tinnitus and its triggers. Once we determine the cause of your tinnitus, we’ll come up with an individual treatment plan. Our holistic approach includes therapy and counseling support in addition to hearing loss treatment and methods utilizing our specific technology and plan.
If necessary, we’ll take a multidisciplinary approach and refer you to other specialists to get the evaluations or treatments you need.
What Kind of Tinnitus Care Do You Offer?
It’s important to remember that there is no cure for tinnitus, but we can help you manage your specific condition. We won’t try to sell you any products that aren’t medically proven. Rather, we take a structured yet customizable approach to tinnitus care through tested methods.
The first step of our tinnitus care is similar to a hearing loss treatment plan. Even if you don’t have a traditionally measurable hearing loss, it’s important to start with hearing technology because it will help with the underlying condition. You may have up to a 20-30% reduction in your hearing abilities and not even know it!
Treatment devices programmed to your prescription will help to provide the proper stimulation to reinvigorate damaged or depleted nerve cells that are causing the tinnitus. This can re-establish the connections to the brain and help quiet the sound.
If the initial hearing treatment plan does not reduce or alleviate the tinnitus, we provide Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, or TRT, which approaches tinnitus from the perspective of neuroscience. We base our treatment plans and recommendations on this method. Here’s how it works:
Your brain prioritizes certain signals from your ears over others. When functioning properly, this allows you to hear the sounds you focus on: for example, a conversation in a crowded restaurant. It also allows you to tune out noise you don’t want to hear, like a running air conditioner or refrigerator, through a process called habituation.
When you experience tinnitus, no sound is actually entering your ears but your brain is still receiving an auditory signal and prioritizing it over others. TRT is centered on habituation of your tinnitus by presenting noise that your brain can associate with the tinnitus sound. When the sound is well-associated and then turned off, your brain may no longer register the sound of the tinnitus. Using both sound generation and counseling, we’ll attempt to retrain your brain and help you habituate to your tinnitus so it isn’t as noticeable or disruptive in your daily life.
We take a systematic and easy-to-use approach to tinnitus treatment. If the combination of the hearing treatment devices and TRT don’t deliver the desired results, we refer patients to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.
Tinnitus isn’t a hopeless condition. Whether we’re your first stop or your last resort, we can help you find a solution to manage your tinnitus.
A combination of:
- If necessary: Using TRT. Tinnitus is often a result of degradation of the neural networks in the ear and possibly even up to the brain. We present noise that your brain can associate with the tinnitus sound. When the sound is properly associated and we turn the sound off, your brain may no longer register the sound of the tinnitus.
– Reinvigorating the neurons to fire appropriately.
- If further treatment necessary: Referring out for CBT.
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