Tinnitus: What's all the buzz?

Free yourself from the suffering of tinnitus

Have you ever experienced ringing, buzzing or hissing in your ears? If so, you are not alone. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that more than 25 million Americans experience this condition – known as tinnitus. The team at HearingLife can identify and treat this condition and provide you relief.

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What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring or ringing in the ears that only you can hear. For some people, tinnitus impacts daily life with increased anxiety, anger and disturbed sleep.

Tinnitus is not a disease or hearing loss, but a symptom caused by an underlying condition, such as hearing loss or ear injury. About 80% of people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss without being aware of it, and many of them can benefit from hearing aids.

Symptoms may vary from one person to another, so personalized treatment offers the most effective relief. Our hearing care professionals have experience with different techniques, sound therapies and hearing aids, and can offer choices to help to relieve this debilitating condition.

Tinnitus has been around for a while

An individual may hear musical tones, ringing, buzzing, rushing, pulsing or other sounds when nothing is producing sound. It’s a phantom noise that can be annoying and even debilitating. It was described in an Egyptian text in 150 B.C., but may have been plaguing Egyptians as early as the Seventeenth Dynasty (1650-1534 B.C.). The modern word, tinnitus, comes from the Latin tinnere, which means to ring.2

Causes of tinnitus

Tinnitus has many origins. Excessive noise, which damages the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, is the most likely culprit. If you work in a noisy environment, without ear protection, you are at risk of developing tinnitus and hearing loss. The louder the noise and the longer you are exposed to it, the greater the risk of damaging your hearing. 

Even using headphones for anything from communicating to listening to music may cause tinnitus when you listen at high volume. In-ear headphones are more likely to contribute to tinnitus and hearing loss than other types of headphones. 

Other common reasons that hair cells can become damaged are the natural process of aging, sudden impact noises, or middle-ear infections. In addition, stress, negative reactions to medicines, neck or head injuries and other untreated medical conditions may all contribute to tinnitus.

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, about 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss. For some, the brain compensates for hearing loss by turning up an “inner volume control” to amplify otherwise unnoticeable sounds. So, symptoms begin, often with a cycle of emotional distress.

In addition, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that the condition increases steadily with age. It peaks between ages 60 to 69 years. However, symptoms vary widely. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Medicine cannot help. That is why our team focuses on supporting the brain as it makes sense of sound.

Therefore, treatment options include:

  • Masking
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
  • Progressive tinnitus management therapy (PTM)
  • Sound generators
  • Sound stimulation

If you would like to learn more about any of these strategies, our team of professionals have resources to help you. Call (844) 836-5003 to book an appointment.

Tinnitus

What is tinnitus and how does tinnitus affect your life?

Tinnitus makes it so an individual sometimes seems to hear "phantom" sounds. These perceptions are generated somewhere in the auditory pathways. Since they are not real, people sense them differently. Some experience ringing, buzzing, roaring, hissing or rushing.

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, some 20% of adults are affected by the condition. It can interfere with your ability to hear, concentrate or sleep. If untreated, it may lead to sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, anger and other psychological effects.

Is tinnitus permanent?

Since it is not an illness, treatment aims to minimize the negative effects. For many, amplification effectively manages symptoms. According to the American Tinnitus Association, approximately 80% of tinnitus sufferers report relief by using hearing aids. Most of all, sound therapy helps. Sometimes built into devices or via an app, they adjust sounds according to individual preference. As a result, people experience a reduction in the starkness of the tinnitus.

How to relieve tinnitus

There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are many ways you can take control of it and reduce its impact on your life. The combination of sound therapy, education and counseling can be very effective at coping with your symptoms, helping you sleep better, and teaching you how to avoid circumstances that trigger tinnitus. 

Although sound cannot eliminate tinnitus, sound therapy can be a helpful tool for managing the symptoms. You listen to different, carefully selected sounds, which can help you feel that your tinnitus is reduced or temporarily gone. It thus becomes easier to hold your attention away from your tinnitus, and helps you to focus on something more pleasant. You can find the sound therapy that gives you the most effective relief by working together with your hearing care professional.

Think you might have tinnitus?

Our hearing care professionals can help you. If they confirm that you suffer from tinnitus, they can offer hearing aids, sound therapy and counselling to help you manage and relieve your symptoms.

Book a free Hearing Assessment  

Or call us: (844) 836-5003

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1Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., & Merck & Co. (2011). The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy. Whitehouse Station, N.J. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., p 419.
2Groopman, Jerome. (2009, February 9). That Buzzing Sound. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/02/09/that-buzzing-sound Accessed 10/3/2018.
3Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., & Merck & Co. (2011). The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy. Whitehouse Station, N.J. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., p 420.
4Iris Lianne Maas MSc, et.al. “Genetic susceptibility to bilateral tinnitus in a Swedish twin cohort.” Genetics in Medicine 19, pages 1007–1012 (2017). https://www.nature.com/articles/gim20174 Accessed 10/3/2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5589979/
5American Tinnitus Association. Causes. https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts/causes Accessed 10/3/2018.
6The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Tinnitus.” https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/tinnitus Accessed 10/3/2018.  
7Deborah Hall, et. al. “Treatment options for subjective tinnitus: Self reports from a sample of general practitioners and ENT physicians within Europe and the USA.” BMC Health Services Research. 2011 11:302. https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-11-302 Accessed 10/3/2018.
8American Tinnitus Foundation. https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts/related-conditions Accessed 10/3/2018.
9“Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Statistics.” Hearing Health Foundation. https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/hearing-loss-tinnitus-statistics/ Accessed 10/3/2018.
10Lisa Aarhus, M. et.al, “Associations between childhood hearing disorders and tinnitus in adulthood.” JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;141(11):983-989. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2468493 Accessed 10/3/2018.
11“Tinnitus.” The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. https://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1324 Accessed 10/3/2018.