The medical definition of tinnitus as per Merriam-Webster is as follows “a sensation of noise (as a ringing or roaring) that is typically caused by a bodily condition (as a disturbance of the auditory nerve or wax in the ear) and usually is of the subjective form which can only be heard by the one affected.” What does all that mean?
Simple put: Tinnitus can be described as buzzing, whistling, ringing as well as many other sounds, and it can vary greatly between individuals. These sounds can be constant or intermittent, yet can only be heard by the afflicted individual. Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of conditions, however regardless of the cause, the resulting effects can disrupt daily living.
Due to the fact that tinnitus has many causes, it is recommended that an appointment with the individual’s primary care physician be an important step in the process for treatment. Next a comprehensive evaluation at Albuquerque Hearing and Balance will provide valuable information regarding your hearing health, and your tinnitus. These tests and the results are an integral part of developing a plan of care for you. You may also be referred to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist to gain complete knowledge of any underlying conditions.
A few conditions, which can cause tinnitus, may be discovered at your evaluation with your audiologist. These are things like having an ear canal full of wax or debris, or having hearing loss. A review of the type of hearing loss and tinnitus you have will determine if the tinnitus is permanent or temporary and be included in your plan of care.
Our clinicians at Albuquerque Hearing and Balance want to provide a complete care plan, which is personalized for you. Since everyone is so different when it comes to their tinnitus, treatments may vary and include multiple options. Some of the more common treatments are as follows:
Advanced hearing aid technology to address any hearing loss is the first step. If hearing loss is present, that must be addressed first. The majority of patients with hearing loss get relief from the tinnitus with the use of amplification. Current technologies also are equipped with a built in sound therapy within the hearing device, however the sound therapy approach is not for everyone, and your audiologist will discuss if this is a proper treatment for you.
Behavioral therapy, called tinnitus retraining therapy, focuses on the mental aspects of tinnitus. This approach includes lifestyle changes, as well as facilitating sound enrichment devices. In some cases strong emotions can be associated with tinnitus: depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger. These emotions can be just as disruptive as the tinnitus. With behavioral therapy, patients learn to retrain their brains. This method is considered useful for severe cases of tinnitus.
Other therapies may include environmental sound enriching devices, changes in/adding medications (in collaboration with a primary care provider), and medical treatments of any conditions discovered or already known.