Why is tinnitus treatment important?
Because “The estimated prevalence of tinnitus is that approximately 10% of U.S. adults have experienced it in the past 12 months, 36% with nearly constant symptoms and 27% who had suffered for longer than 15 years.” 1
What is tinnitus?
Often referred to as “ringing in the ears” or “head noise,” subjective tinnitus is perceived sounds in one or both ears with no external sound present. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom of some underlying health condition. In many cases it is the brain’s sensorineural reaction to damage in the ear and auditory system.
Typical symptoms include:
- Who has increased risk?
- Individuals with hearing loss, men, older people, smokers and those with:
- Acute or chronic exposure to loud noises such as industrial workers, soldiers and musicians
- Cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Head, neck or brain tumors
- Depression or anxiety
Where is the source of tinnitus?
Although various types of tinnitus noises are heard in our ears, they seem to originate in the brain cell network that converts electrical impulses into recognizable sounds. Akin to chronic pain syndrome when pain persists after broken bones heal, tinnitus might result from neural circuits attempted adaptation to sensory hair cell loss by being acutely sensitive to everyday or loud noises.
When should those with harmful symptoms seek healthy relief?
Especially for those struggling with bothersome effects, the sooner the better. It is crucial to distinguish between hearing loss that inhibits capacity to converse with others, from Tinnitus, sounds from within, which are deeply disturbing. While conversations are open for all to hear, a tinnitus sufferer’s head noise evokes acoustic clutter none can hear. Beyond unbearable effects from annoying sensory intrusions, know the psychological consequences. “Who would believe I’m constantly hearing unusual noises and comprehend their profound impact on my ability to function, sleep or experience daily pleasures?”
How can those with tinnitus get relief?
Since eliminating unwanted sounds is not possible, applying adaptive methods of healthier brain processing can provide much needed hope and relief. Notably, most people with tinnitus have hearing loss. In addition to improving communication, hearing aids may reduce tinnitus symptoms by ensuring external sound sources provide alternative auditory stimulus. When the brain’s attention is distracted and internal “head noise” is not alone, blended perceptions may be less noticeable and hurtful. In this case, Silence is NOT Golden.
Habituation refers to diminishing physiological or emotional responses to a frequently repeated stimulus. Healthy habits are beneficial in many forms and to reduce mental strain, we Retrain the Brain. While we cannot eliminate the stimulus (intrusive noises), we can mentally manage conditioned or reflex responses. Make a Choice, Ask How.
If you or a loved one face tinnitus challenges, take control now. You should know about therapeutic options and mindful methods to reduce symptom severity, psychological stress and functional abilities. Earlier intervention is advised and our reputable expertise will instill renewed optimism that daily sounds can bring joy not anguish. When others say you must learn to live with it, please know we CAN do something about your tinnitus.
1 Bhatt JM, Lin HW, Bhattacharyya N. Prevalence, Severity, Exposures, and Treatment Patterns of Tinnitus in the United States. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Oct 1;142(10):959-965. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2016.1700. PMID: 27441392; PMCID: PMC5812683.