Were you told to live with your tinnitus?
We at North Georgia Audiology are able to help tinnitus sufferers by successfully evaluating and treating tinnitus through various methods including sound therapy, tinnitus masking devices, and counseling. We are members of the American Tinnitus Association and stay up-to-date with the latest research in tinnitus theory and management. Our Doctors of Audiology will provide a thorough history intake and evaluation in order to deliver the best treatment option for your tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or head. Other descriptions of tinnitus include whistling, roaring, hissing, swishing, chirping, clicking, tapping, or ticking. It can occur in one or both ears. 94% of people will experience tinnitus at some point. What matters most is how it affects your daily life.
Does it Really Matter?
Tinnitus can be extremely disruptive and debilitating. Common problems related to tinnitus are:
- sleeping difficulties
- concentration problems
- mood disturbances (stress, anxiety, irritability)
- hearing problems
Tinnitus is also linked to very common disorders such as diabetes and hypertension. In order for the best prognosis, it is important to treat tinnitus sooner rather than later. Do not ignore tinnitus that is significant to your life!
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Hearing loss
- Stress and depression
- Exposure to loud noises and hair cell death
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Eustachian tube disorder
- Long-term aspirin use
- TMJ issues or head and neck injuries
- Other pathologies: otosclerosis, otitis media, autoimmune disorders, sudden hearing loss, acoustic neuroma, Meniere’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular or neurological problem, etc.
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your Doctor of Audiology or physician will conduct a complete medical and audiological history, as well as a complete evaluation. In some cases, the exact cause of the tinnitus may not be found but serious underlying conditions can be ruled out.
What Treatments are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus and other factors, several treatments are available, including medical options as well as alternative therapies.
A common treatment is acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus.
Other options include:
- Masking devices
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
- Progressive Tinnitus Management
- Zen Therapy
- Tinnitus Activities Treatment (TAT)
Tinnitus Retraining Thearapy (TRT)
One treatment that incorporates sound therapy is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. This therapy attempts to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way.
About 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it because their brains process it and file it as another everyday noise. TRT tries to teach your brain how to process the noise so that it doesn't bother you anymore (or not as much).
Medications may be an option, especially if they are to treat an underlying condition and relieve its symptoms. However, no medication has been approved specifically for the treatment of tinnitus.
Your Doctor of Audiology or physician will also be able to refer you to psychological treatment or support, as tinnitus can be life-changing and hard to deal with, especially when it is a chronic problem. A tinnitus support group may also be of help.
After treatment has taken place, further maintenance is important. This may include management of associated health problems or ongoing therapies to support health and manage tinnitus.