Tinnitus Treatment and Evaluations
Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or originating from the head. The word tinnitus is Latin and literally means ringing.
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is sometimes a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Stress and depression
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Meniere's disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of a cranial nerve
- Medication side-effect
- Unknown origin
Although most cases of tinnitus are of “idiopathic” or unknown origin, since it may be due to one of the above, a complete medical assessment is a good starting point. Once completed and any possible medical cause has been either addressed or ruled out, Mr. Barth can then discuss with you non-medical treatment options.
What Treatments are Available?
Once any underlying medical origin has been addressed or ruled out, then your Audiologist can discuss with you other treatment options. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus. Tinnitus maskers help mask or block out the tinnitus.
A tinnitus masker is any device which produces a sound to mask, or block out the tinnitus sound. The Audiologist can perform a Tinnitus matching and masking evaluation. Then the minimum amount of masking noise can be prescribed and delivered. The masker could be as simple as a fan going all time time in your bedroom or as sophisticated as a digital hearing aid tuned to give you a precise amount of white, pink, or narrow band noise.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
One treatment that incorporates sound therapy is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. This therapy attempts to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way. About 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it because their brains process it and consider it as another everyday noise. TRT tries to teach your brain how to process the noise so that it doesn't bother you anymore (or not as much).
As tinnitus can be life-changing or debilitating in extreme cases, a psychological help or a support group may be advisable. Mr. Barth can direct you in the right direction for this.
Remember, primarily due to there being many different origins to tinnitus, no one medicine has received FDA approval as a “cure” for tinnitus. However, some over-the-counter and homeopathic treatments have been shown to help some people. However, read the ingredients first!
For further information, contact the American Tinnitus Association at: