06 May FAQ – Can you help me with my tinnitus? Is there a cure?
The quote, “silence is more musical than any song” written by English Poet, Christina Rossetti, rings true for those who experience tinnitus. Tinnitus is described as the perception of sound within the ears or head and occurs without a corresponding external sound. Many people describe tinnitus as a buzzing, ringing or hissing sound that is there constantly or can happen in short spurts.
Tinnitus is a symptom and it results from a wide range of underlying causes; but is most often caused by, or experienced along with, hearing loss. Tinnitus occurs when there has been damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. Damage can be caused by age-related hearing loss, noise exposure, trauma or accidents, or from a number of medical concerns such as Meniere’s Disease, poor cardiovascular health, cancer drug treatments, tumors or certain ototoxic medications.
The outcome of experiencing tinnitus and/or hearing loss is often associated with feelings of embarrassment, irritability, stress, depression, low self-esteem, frustration, impaired memory and isolation. Tinnitus can also affect a person’s concentration and sleep patterns and can negatively affect one’s physical and psychological wellbeing.
So what can you do? If you have tinnitus there are many effective strategies that can be used individually or in combination to “manage” your tinnitus. We say “manage” because to date, there is no cure for tinnitus. Nothing you see on TV or over the counter is a cure; these products will not cure your tinnitus, help your tinnitus or provide much in the way of relief.
Your Audiologist can provide you with the information you need to help you to manage your tinnitus through in office counseling, often seen as the first step in the management of tinnitus, strategies to de-emphasize fear of tinnitus and the negative feelings associated with tinnitus. The goal of effective tinnitus management is to reduce or eliminate a person’s emotional reaction, and often it is a negative reaction, by neutralizing the impact of the tinnitus perception.
Often Sound Therapy or the use of background sounds to decrease the prominence of tinnitus is an effective way to lessen the impact of tinnitus. Soft sounds around the house such as a fan, radio, TV or music can help to manage a person’s tinnitus and the feelings that tinnitus causes. Often tinnitus presents the most difficulty in quiet settings. Going to sleep at night can be particularly challenging for those suffering with tinnitus. Sound machines can be used at night. These are small devices that produce a variety of nature sounds; breezes, water trickling, leaves rustling etc. and some models can be used with a small pillow speaker to help patients with tinnitus fall asleep.
If hearing loss accompanies tinnitus, hearing aids are the most effective way to manage tinnitus. Hearing aids can be used both as a means to treat the hearing loss as well as manage your tinnitus.
Research has shown that those who treat their tinnitus with hearing aids report fewer negative health concerns and score higher on quality of life factors.
Hearing aids will amplify environmental sounds and in turn provide your brain with new sounds to process instead of constantly alerting you to the sound of your tinnitus. Widex, a leading manufacturer of hearing aids in Canada, offers a product called Zen which can be used for tinnitus management. The hearing aid is able to play soft music or produce white noise to help manage tinnitus, in addition to being a hearing aid, which will help with the degree of hearing loss.
There are those who experience tinnitus and those who suffer from tinnitus. This distinction is of great importance in a person’s overall health, well-being and state of mind.
There is help available – see your Audiologist.
Thank you to Sandra B. of Eastern Passage for this month’s FAQ! If you have a question you’d like to submit email us email@example.com!