Are you or someone you know experiencing an annoying ringing in the ears? Have you told yourself that you need to learn to live with it? Has someone told you its normal with aging? The American Tinnitus Association (http://www.ata.org/) estimates that more than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus. Of these, 12 million have tinnitus that is severe enough to seek medical attention. Additionally, nearly 2 million persons have tinnitus that is so debilitating they can’t function in their daily lives.
What is tinnitus?
While commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can actually manifest in a variety of different perceived sounds, such as music, hissing, roaring, whistling, buzzing, or clicking sounds.
Some causes of tinnitus can range from noise exposure or other damage to the auditory system, ear wax buildup, a benign tumor, certain drugs, Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis (a condition where a stiffening of the middle ear bones occurs) and high blood pressure. Stress and fatigue, alcohol, smoking, large amounts of caffeine, excessive amounts of aspirin or antibiotics, and salt can all exacerbate your tinnitus.
An Audiologist is a healthcare specialist, trained in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and other hearing-related disorders. Audiologists can perform an array of hearing tests, interpret test results, fit and adjust hearing aids, and advise on the selection and use of hearing assistance tools. In general, audiologists are the best, first option for the vast majority of tinnitus cases.
- Oftentimes there is a hearing loss associated with tinnitus. Many people may be unaware that, when appropriate, hearing aids can reduce the effects of tinnitus.
- Tinnitus symptoms often generate feelings of despair and anxiety in many patients. Current estimates suggest that 48-78% of patients with severe tinnitus also experience depression, anxiety, or some other behavioral disorder. There are several behavioral and educational treatment programs specifically for tinnitus management; general psychological therapy may also be beneficial.
- Find ways to increase relaxation.Patients often report that their tinnitus is less burdensome when they are relaxed. Find the activities and behaviors that best help you relax: exercise, yoga, meditation, soothing music, anything that helps you be calm and content.
- Get a good night’s sleep.Sleeping isn’t easy when you have tinnitus, but getting a restful night’s sleep can improve your overall health and may minimize the perceived intensity of tinnitus during waking hours. Many patients use sound machines, radio static, or a fan to mask their tinnitus and help them fall and stay asleep.
This year, enjoy all the wonder of the holidays as well as the “real” ringing of Christmas bells. Regarding that other ringing? Let’s see how we can reduce the effects of tinnitus for you NOW!