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The experience of tinnitus – a ringing in the ears- affects 50 million Americans each year, but that doesn’t make it any less intrusive or distracting! Tinnitus happens when you can hear a sound or tone that isn’t present – a non-auditory sound. It is usually caused by damage to the inner ear, from noise exposure, infection, medication or an impact to the head or neck.
Most often, tinnitus manifests itself as a high-pitch ringing sound, but it can take other forms – it can sound tonal or like clicks, buzzing, whistling or pulsing. Some tinnitus sounds like static or roaring or hissing. Living with tinnitus can be draining – causing frustration and distraction from everyday life. While there is no cure for tinnitus, many people find relief through some form of tinnitus therapy. If you’re experiencing tinnitus, here are some suggestions for how to effectively manage the condition.
Get a Hearing Test
Tinnitus is most often a response to damage in the auditory system, so if you have frequent or chronic tinnitus, you’ll want to have a hearing exam to check for potential hearing loss and other possible sources for hearing loss.
Sometimes the tinnitus has a treatable cause. Disease and infection can cause tinnitus to occur, and the ringing can resolve itself as the infection does. Seeking medical treatment not only helps the tinnitus dissipate, it can help avert lasting damage that untreated infections can do to hearing.
Your doctor or hearing specialist will also be knowledgeable about potential medication interactions. Some medications and medical treatments have side effects that include hearing damage and tinnitus, including common painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. Drugs with the potential to harm your hearing are known as “ototoxic”. Sometimes two or more drugs can interact in a way that causes tinnitus. Your medical provider can help you understand better if medication you take is possibly causing your tinnitus, and possibly help you find alternatives.
Try Sound Therapy
One of the most common methods for treating tinnitus is through sound therapy where the unwelcome noise is suppressed by masking it in a “soundscape” of other noises. Think of your tinnitus like the sound of a bathroom faucet dripping. In an empty, tiled room, the dripping noise will attract all the attention, but if the shower is turned on, the dripping will be barely noticeable. The concept behind sound therapy is similar – de-emphasize a singular, distracting noise by enveloping it in sound. A white noise machine or room sound generator or even a fan or air conditioner can help create subtle room tone that helps avert your focus from tinnitus sounds.
More and more, technology is starting to play a role in adaptive tinnitus sound therapies. Apps for managing tinnitus let you select from various tones or even create your own custom sound palette for tinnitus relief. Some people looking for tinnitus relief use soundscape generating apps and programs designed to promote sleep.
Take a Break From Stress
Stress can be a major contributor to how big a role tinnitus plays in your life. When you are under pressure, tinnitus tends to flare and the brain is more likely to fixate on the imposing sound. Tinnitus and stress can then become locked in a cycle where each one feeds into the problems of the other.
Schedule breaks in your day for rest and meditation, especially if you have a high-pressure lifestyle. Meditation, slow movement and mindfulness can all de-escalate tinnitus’ negative impact.
Consider Hearing Aid Options
If you have hearing loss in addition to tinnitus, you may want to make that a factor in the hearing aids you select. Now, many hearing aids come with integrated tinnitus relief programs, from sound therapies that can be custom designed to relief streamed directly to your hearing device.
Using hearing aids if you have tinnitus and hearing loss may also be the solution. By amplifying sound, hearing aids help de-emphasize the non-auditory sounds of tinnitus.
HearCare in Rhode Island
When you have hearing issues, HearCare in Rhode Island is focused on helping you find answers. From complete hearing exams to top-of-the-line hearing products, we offer our customers the best in hearing health. If you’re part of the 15% of Americans affected by tinnitus, HearCare care help you connect with quality treatment. Set up an appointment today!