Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears

Do you have Tinnitus?

Have you ever left a nightclub or a concert and been aware of a ringing, whistling or hissing noise in your ears?

Perhaps you are aware of sounds in your ears or your head when the world around you is quiet, like when you are trying to fall asleep? If so, you have experienced Tinnitus. At any one time around 10% of the population experience tinnitus and it can be experienced at any age.

The experience of Tinnitus varies from quiet background noise to quite disturbingly loud noise. It can be intermittent or continuous, temporary or permanent, easy to ignore or quite distressing.  Most patients with tinnitus experience an acute phase of distress when the tinnitus is first detected, followed by an improvement over time.  For a small number of patients, the distress is ongoing, and more specialist support can be helpful.

Are you worried about Tinnitus?

If you are worried about your tinnitus, our audiologists can support you to establish the best course of action for you.

Having tinnitus does not mean you will automatically have hearing loss, but we will always recommend a hearing test as part of the process.

If you are regularly exposed to loud noise, and want to prevent tinnitus, we can help with the right advice on prevention as well as provide the best hearing protection solutions.

What causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a noise generated in our own auditory pathways, and despite its commonality, the cause of tinnitus is not completely understood.

What is clear is that it often occurs following exposure to loud noise, including music.  If you suffer with tinnitus, protecting yourself against any exacerbation is recommended.

We also know that most people who experience hearing loss also experience tinnitus. This lends some weight to theory that the damage that has occurred in the inner ear to cause the hearing loss may also be the root cause of the tinnitus.

There is currently no consensus to the exact cause of tinnitus, which might explain why there is no formal “cure “so far. However, at True Hearing, we have seen the impact of tinnitus drastically reduced for those who have sought our help, and we can guide you through the myriad of options that can be explored to manage tinnitus.

How can I manage my Tinnitus?

Your audiologist will help you identify the underlying cause and start with tinnitus treatment. If the cause is untreatable, your clinician may help you manage the condition. They may ask you several questions based on what kind of noises you hear and the pitch. Your medical history may also be of importance when trying to find the underlying cause of the condition. If you believe that you have tinnitus, we can help. Seeking help from an audiologist, otologist, or otolaryngologist will provide you with an understanding of the cause of your tinnitus and how you can best manage it. If your tinnitus is from a treatable medical condition, then relief may be at hand. If there is no treatable cause, then the best options for managing tinnitus currently include:

  • Biofeedback

    This is a relaxation technique that tries to change the body’s reaction to stress. It teaches the patient to control their involuntary body functions. Some examples of involuntary body functions are pulse, and muscle tension. Patients notice a reduction in tinnitus when able to adjust reactions to stress.

  • Cognitive Therapy

    The goal of this therapy is to alter the patient’s perception of tinnitus. It aims to redirect the patients focus from the negative aspects of tinnitus, to focus on the positive outcomes of coping with the tinnitus. Cognitive therapy works best when combined with a masking device or possible medication treatments.

  • Sound Therapy

    Sound is used to partially or completely cover or ‘mask’ the tinnitus with the use of both wearable and non-wearable devices. This treatment should always be combined with appropriate counselling.

  • Cochlear Implants/Electrical Stimulation

    If indicated for hearing loss, the cochlear implant will allow you to hear more ambient sounds which will mask the tinnitus. The implant will also send electrical stimulation through the auditory nerve which could help in tinnitus relief

  • Hearing Aids

    If hearing loss is also present, then the use of hearing aids will amplify the ambient sounds which in turn will help to ‘mask’ the tinnitus. Studies have shown that patients with hearing loss experience relief from tinnitus while wearing hearing aids, and for some the relief continues even after the devices are taken off for the day.

Hearing Aids and Tinnitus

It is well known that most people with hearing loss also report experiencing tinnitus.  While the exact correlation of these two conditions is not fully understood, the treatment options have been shown to successfully overlap.

If you have a permanent hearing loss, hearing aids are best placed to maximise your hearing potential.  Hearing aids are designed to amplify ambient sounds, appropriate to your hearing loss, and it is this amplification that can provide the key to also supporting tinnitus management.

For many tinnitus sufferers, being able to “mask” out the internal tinnitus sounds provides the necessary relief from their tinnitus, and if a hearing loss is also present, then this can be achieved with the use of hearing aids.

For some people, just wearing the hearing aids on the appropriate settings for their hearing loss provides sufficient masking of the tinnitus, such that it is not perceived at all during hearing aid use.

If this is not sufficient, there are additional technology options built into many hearing aids today that provide a dedicated tinnitus masker or masking program within the hearing aid settings.

Studies have shown that for some patients with hearing loss, the experience of relief from tinnitus while wearing hearing aids continues even after the devices are taken off for the day.

Contact us on (03) 9889 4915 for an appointment to discuss the impact that tinnitus has on your life and understand how True Hearing can help.

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