Tinnitus is Incurable…But Not Untreatable
If you wake up on January 1 with a ringing in your ears and haven’t been out partying to usher in the new year, you are one of the approximately 50 million Americans in California and across the U.S. with tinnitus. About one in five Concord and Walnut Creek residents suffers from tinnitus, a ringing or other phantom sound in the ears. Don’t just resolve to eat better or lose a few pounds in 2020; make it a point to have your tinnitus treated, as well.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is described as a noise in your ears or head that occurs without an external sound source. It is most commonly described as a ringing in the ears but has been compared to a roaring, whooshing, clicking, whistling, humming or buzzing, too.
Tinnitus isn’t a medical condition, but rather, a symptom of another underlying health problem. Tinnitus may be caused by age-related hearing loss, noise exposure, infection, allergies, earwax, drugs, foreign objects in the ears and more. Often, the exact cause is never determined.
Most cases of tinnitus are subjective, meaning only the person experiencing the noise can hear it. Once in a great while, another person – typically a doctor or spouse – is able to hear the sound, too. This is known as objective tinnitus and is extremely rare.
How is tinnitus treated?
There is no cure for tinnitus, but treatment options are available to quiet the distraction and reduce its impact on your everyday life. Common strategies for managing tinnitus and reducing its symptoms include:
Masking, or noise suppression, is a way to divert the brain’s attention from the phantom sounds. White noise therapy is most popular; you can try a white noise machine, download an app for your smartphone, or simply run a fan or air-conditioner to achieve the same effect.
Your Burbank audiologist can provide counseling and coping strategies to help reduce the stress and anxiety that often accompany tinnitus. You’ll also learn about ways to improve your sleep, which often suffers.
If you’re suffering from a medical condition that causes tinnitus, treating that disorder might help quiet the ringing in your ears. Meniere’s disease is a balance disorder commonly linked to tinnitus. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, steroid injections with Dexamethasone may bring relief.
Tinnitus is sometimes caused by a benign tumor called an acoustic neuroma. Surgical removal will often eliminate the ringing in your ears.
Tinnitus sufferers with hearing aids can turn up the volume on their devices in order to increase background sounds, effectively masking their tinnitus. Hearing aids also help you distinguish between different sounds, improving communication, focus and concentration. Many hearing aids include features such as noise generators that utilize ambient sounds that can be used to cover up tinnitus.
There is no reason to go another year suffering in silence (or rather, lack of silence). Start off the new year by making an appointment with an audiologist in Concord or Walnut Creek to treat your tinnitus.