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Tinnitus is the term for intrusive ringing or phantom sound in your ear. Tinnitus is incredibly common, affecting roughly one third of the population and around 75% of people with hearing loss also deal with some form of tinnitus.
Tinnitus can vary greatly in how it manifests. The sound of tinnitus can range from low, static-y sounds or clicking to crashing waves or a constant tonal ringing, in addition to many other intrusive sounds. It also varies greatly in its severity – for some people tinnitus may be easily pushed to the background, while for others it can become a huge disruption, drowning out speech and impeding ability to focus or even sleep. People who already live with hearing loss may find tinnitus particularly challenging as it creates an additional challenge to comprehension.
The underlying cause of tinnitus varies from person to person, though in all cases it is indicative that damage has occurred in the auditory system. Tinnitus can be caused by infection, injuries to the head and neck, noise exposure, certain medications, and other events that may affect hearing. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for tinnitus but that doesn’t mean your tinnitus has to hold you back. Effective treatment for tinnitus involves finding strategies that subdue its impact.
Talk To Us!
When tinnitus arises, it is important to talk to our team of audiologists to connect with strategies for reducing or managing it. We will be able to help in a number of ways. First, we can analyze what is causing your tinnitus to see if the underlying cause can be treated, such as may be the case with infections or inflammation. In some cases, tinnitus is caused by factors that should be properly treated before they worsen.
Speaking with us will also help in monitoring your tinnitus and tracking what treatment paths are effective for you. For those with both hearing loss and tinnitus, we will help you manage both conditions simultaneously.
Stress has been found to be a huge contributing factor to the anxiety and frustration tinnitus can produce and lowering your stress levels has the potential to reduce the way tinnitus intrudes on your life. Simple changes to your daily schedule can be your first step – make sure each day has down time for you to relax in. Also, getting enough sleep is an important factor in lowering stress levels. Develop healthy sleep hygiene to help you get full, restful nights that make you better prepared to deal with the challenges you face.
Many people are finding that changes in their diet have the potential to reduce their tinnitus. Cutting down on processed sugar, fried foods, and especially caffeine and salt can all influence the severity of tinnitus. Adopting a Mediteranean Diet may help in controlling tinnitus, as can supplements of zinc and B vitamins and high-potassium fruits like pineapple.
As part of stress control, many tinnitus sufferers have found relief through mindfulness and meditation. Meditation has the capacity to lower anxiety and gives room for reflection. The stillness and focus of meditation can help lower stress-induced tinnitus and can train the mind to push intrusive tinnitus sounds into the background. For some people with tinnitus, meditating with their open eyes can help keep tinnitus from becoming a distraction.
For many people with tinnitus, white noise can provide relief. Many apps make it possible to custom-create white noise or environmental soundscapes that detract from the prominence of tinnitus noise. Working with white noise, the mind can be trained to push tinnitus sounds into the background and return focus to listening.
Tinnitus Therapy with Hearing Aids
As mentioned above, tinnitus can be a more significant issue for people living with hearing loss, where tinnitus sounds compete with incoming sound and speech, making comprehension and focus more difficult. One way to lessen the impact of tinnitus is through using hearing aids.
Hearing aids amplify frequencies of sound that are difficult to hear and make incoming noises much easier to understand. By amplifying and focussing incoming sound, hearing aids have the potential to sublimate intrusive tinnitus. Many modern hearing aids also come with built-in tinnitus relief therapies, such as guided meditations or customizable white noise generators that can be streamed through your hearing devices.