The sounds of the holiday season — the church choir, little ones delighting in presents, friends reminiscing about holidays long ago — are what make the season merry and bright.
But if you are distracted by your tinnitus, holidays might not feel like much of a celebration. We want to help you hear the cheer, so read on for what you need to know about tinnitus and how to find relief. Though there’s no cure for tinnitus, there is hope. Tinnitus can be managed through strategies like medical treatments and/or subtle changes in your home environment.
- Isn’t a disease
- Isn’t curable
- May be a symptom of an underlying health condition
- Is a persistent ringing, whooshing, or buzzing in one or both ears
- Can only be heard by the affected individual
Tinnitus may come and go for some, but others experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These phantom sounds may cause only a slight annoyance, or they may severely disrupt everyday life. If you have experienced tinnitus, you’re not alone — the American Tinnitus Association estimates that more than 50 million Americans suffer from at least occasional bouts of tinnitus.
What Causes Tinnitus?
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), “most tinnitus is primary tinnitus, where no cause can be identified aside from hearing loss. Secondary tinnitus is associated with a specific underlying cause that may be treatable. Your doctor will help you distinguish whether your tinnitus is primary or secondary.”
If hearing loss is the cause, it may result from age-related hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss. Other possible causes include:
- Ototoxic drugs
- Head trauma
- Sinus pressure or congestion
- Ear pressure caused by an obstruction in the middle ear
- Traumatic brain injury
- Eardrum blockage
- Jaw joint disorders
In rare cases, tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel disorder. This often results in pulsatile tinnitus, which is characterized by pulses or beating sounds in tandem with your heartbeat. This type of tinnitus may be caused by a head or neck tumor, a buildup of cholesterol in the circulatory system, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, or a malformation of the capillaries surrounding the ear.
What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus?
Though there’s no universally effective cure for tinnitus, there is hope. Relief can come in many forms, from medical treatments to little changes in your lifestyle.
Things at Home That Can Help
- Be proactive! Avoid potential irritants. Start noticing what triggers your tinnitus, and reduce your exposure to these catalysts.
- You can start by masking the noise. In quiet settings, white noise such as a fan, music, or low-volume radio static may make the noise from tinnitus less noticeable.
- Lower your stress levels. Stress can make your tinnitus worse.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Exercise daily.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep.
- Pay attention to your caffeine intake; does it seem to worsen your tinnitus? If so, reduce your consumption of coffee, tea, and other offending beverages.
- Does your tinnitus seem to be more pronounced when you take certain over-the-counter medications such as aspirin? If so, discuss this with your hearing health care professional to explore alternative medications.
Medical Treatments to Choose From
The No. 1 treatment for tinnitus for those who also experience concurrent hearing loss is the use of a personal hearing system, which can improve your hearing and often reduce or eliminate your perception of tinnitus. There are a number of treatment options, including:
AGX® Hearing technology: This is the top treatment for those who experience hearing loss; it can both improve overall hearing ability and eliminate the perception of ringing.
Masking devices: An electronic device called a masker may be worn to impact the signal-to-noise ratio of the ringing sensation. Maskers fit in the ear similarly to hearing aids and produce low-level sounds. In addition, bedside sound generators and other devices can also help remove the perception of ringing.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy:A therapeutic process that many of our patients have been able to find relief with. The process is a combination of sound therapy and counseling, which alters the brain’s neural signals and weakens the perception of tinnitus, allowing you to live your daily life far more peacefully.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:A type of counseling that helps to change the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus by altering negative thought patterns and helping to relieve stress.
Identifying and exploring what kind of tinnitus you’re experiencing, and what variables impact it, are the first steps in finding relief. Give yourself the gift of better hearing this holiday by visiting us this season. During your visit, we will discuss your treatment options and refer you to additional professionals if needed.