There are between 25 and 50 million Americans are plagued with a condition that is imperceptible to other people. They look normal, but they are suffering with a problem that is a constant frustration and irritation. Tinnitus can lead to sleep deprivation which can dramatically impact quality of life for those with severe tinnitus symptoms. In some cases, their agony drives them to consider suicide.
Tinnitus (pronounced either tin-NYE-tis or TIN-uh-tis) is frequently described as” ringing in the ears”. The sounds are described in many ways: hissing, chirping like crickets, electronic whines, static, rushing water, buzzing, whooshing or humming. Loudness varies, but it can get so intrusive it is hard to think, hear or sleep. Imagine trying to function with a radio stuck between stations at top volume. You can’t turn it down and you can’t turn it off. No one else can hear what the victim hears, but the sounds are not imaginary.
There are many causes of tinnitus
Veterans suffer as a result of exposure to loud noise during war. Tinnitus is one of the most common causes of disability among those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. People exposed to industrial noises, or loud engine noises from airplanes, race cars, or airboats may also develop ringing ear. Formal Rock-and-Roll performers such as Pete Townshend of “The Who” have spoken out about how loud music can lead to tinnitus.
Hundreds of drugs can also trigger tinnitus
Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) are notorious for this side effect. Foods containing caffeine or high level of sodium are known to be tinnitus “triggers”. If the tinnitus is drug-induced, stopping the medication may eliminate the pro- blem, but the cause of this condition is not always identifiable.
For decades doctors told sufferers there was nothing that could be done to quell the internal noise. Patients were often told to “learn to live with it”. Some were given drugs like Valium (diazepam) or Xanax (alprazolam) to ease the stress brought on by constant ringing, hissing or buzzing. Such solutions are un- satisfactory for millions of patients. Living with constant intrusive noise can ruin the quality of life.
Now, a number of devices are being de-veloped to help tinnitus sufferers. Some high- end hearing aids are designed to mask tinnitus noise at the same time they improve hearing. Tinnitus Retrain- ing Therapy (Tinnitus.org) provides patient with counseling and longterm exposure to white noise to overcome the internal sounds. It can take a long time (one to two years) to achieve satisfactory results, however, in more severe cases of the condition. One of promising approach is an FDA-approved device that helps retrain the brain. The Neuromonics system creates a sound that matches the Patient’s par- ticular tinnitus noise. This is then embedded in relaxing music that the Patient listens to for at least two hours daily. Within two months, many patients experience some relief, but the full program takes at least six months to complete. Aaron Bilovecky, M.A.
CCC-A of Southwest Florida Tinnitus and Hearing Center had extensive exposure to Tinnitus cases while serving as Director of Audiology at the prestigious Shea Clinic in Memphis Tenn. States, “Nothing that I’ve ever worked with has offered this
this much relief for Tinnitus sufferers!” “People who suffer with severe symptoms, are reporting feelings of optimism and hope after just a few weeks of treatment!” In one study, 86 percent of the people using the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment got relief from their tinnitus. This was significantly better than the 47 percent in a control group that received counseling and listened to white noise and the 23 percent of those who were given only counseling (Ear, Nose and Throat Journal, June, 2008) Extensive studies at Duke University also found that over 80% of Tinnitus sufferers reported at least a 40% reduction in their tinnitus disturbance and many report that after treatment the tinnitus problem has become virtually insignificant. Now that researchers are learning how to retune the brain, many tinnitus sufferers may be able to get relief at last!
Southwest Florida Tinnitus and Hearing Center and Hoglund Family Hearing and Audiology Center offer COMPLIMENTARY Tinnitus Consultations for those seeking more information about their personal condition and available treatments. CALL (239) 498-7142 to arrange an appointment!