By Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D. –
Tinnitus, a condition that affects roughly 25 million Americans, is most likely caused by auditory nerve damage, medications, loud noise or other health-related conditions. While it typically presents itself as a “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can also be described as hearing any type of sound that is not actually present in the environment, including whistling and hissing sounds.
Tinnitus sufferers often complain of having difficulty hearing, working or sleeping, but there is relief available. The most important thing you can do is to see your doctor to determine the cause of your tinnitus. He or she can check to see if your symptoms are related to medications, blood pressure, kidney function, diet, or allergies. Your doctor can also refer you to an ENT or an audiologist for additional testing.
Once tinnitus has been diagnosed there are several treatment options available including:
Hearing Aids – Many people with tinnitus also have a hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid can make it easier to hear sounds through amplification. Better hearing makes tinnitus less noticeable.
Maskers – Maskers are small electronic devices that use sound to make tinnitus less noticeable. Although maskers do not make tinnitus go away, they do make the ringing or roaring seem softer. Some people report they can barely hear their tinnitus while using a masker and that they can help when it comes time to fall asleep.
Combination hearing aid/masker – I have seen long-term benefits using the masker in the Widex Zen Therapy, a combination /hearing aid masker approach to tinnitus management. Widex Zen Therapy uniquely combines the benefits of a hearing aid with sound stimulation, counseling, stress reduction and amplification – all depending on your level of tinnitus.
Sound Therapy – I have recently introduced the SoundCure Seranade System as a treatment option for my patients with tinnitus. The system consists of a hand-held device, earphones and proprietary treatment sounds known as S-Tones®. Independent research has suggested S-Tones may address the underlying neurological cause of tinnitus.1 It is effective for immediate relief or can be used as part of an on-going tinnitus treatment therapy. Four separate sound tracks are available so the unit can be programmed to best suit the needs of the tinnitus patient.2 Its SleepAssist function features a 60-minute timer to help the patient fall asleep.
In many cases a combination of one of the above treatments along with the following can produce relief to those who suffer from tinnitus:
Relaxation – Learning how to relax is very helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress makes tinnitus seem worse. By relaxing, you have a chance to rest and better deal with the sound. To help you relax, think about things that will help you cope. Try listening to music or recorded sounds from nature.
Medicine or drug therapy – Some medicines may ease tinnitus. If your doctor prescribes medicine to treat your tinnitus, he or she can tell you whether the medicine has any side effects.
Avoid anything that can make your tinnitus worse – This includes smoking, using alcohol and exposure to loud noise to name a few. If you are regularly exposed to loud noise at home or at work, wear ear plugs or special earmuffs to protect your hearing and keep your tinnitus from getting worse.
If it is hard for you to hear over your tinnitus, ask your friends and family to face you when they talk so you can see their faces. Seeing their expressions may help you understand them better. Ask people to speak louder (without shouting) while maintaining a normal rate of speech.
The staff at Advanced Hearing Solutions in Englewood and Boca Grande are dedicated to staying abreast of new technological developments within the hearing industry and to sharing them with our community. For more information about tinnitus or for help in its treatment, please contact us at 941-474-8393.
Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D., owner and practicing audiologist at Advanced Hearing Solutions in Englewood, FL is an experienced professional whose career has been devoted to helping people of all ages hear and understand more clearly.
With over 23 years of experience, Dr. Crosby’s career path is marked by the pursuit of advanced education. After completing her undergraduate requirements, she received her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Florida State University and her Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Florida.
Her credibility as an authority grew during her tenure as the Director of Audiology at the Silverstein Institute in Sarasota, FL from 1991-1998. Today, in addition to managing a successful audiology practice, Dr. Crosby just completed her second term as president of The Florida Academy of Audiology.
941-474-8393 | www.drnoelcrosby.com