Tinnitus – Sounds in a World of Silence

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With over 50 million people living with tinnitus, it’s surprising that there is currently no cure for this disorder, which can be classified as both audiological and neurological. According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), the symptoms of this condition are often described as a broad range of sounds such as:

  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Insect chirping
  • Ringing,
  • Swooshing
  • Whistling
  • Occasionally described as music

These sounds are not able to be heard by others but are more of an impression of sound to the patient. It can present as either a constant sound or coming at intervals. In rare cases, it takes on the rhythm of the affected persons heartbeat.

While tinnitus has no cure, it also has no exact cause either. It can be brought on by a variety of reasons such as hearing loss, a dysfunction of the middle ear, exposure to noise, wax buildup, injuries to the neck or head, certain medications. Even bouts of extreme stress can trigger tinnitus to occur, though often it’s unsure what the exact cause is.

It has been attributed to conditions like the normal aging process, ototoxicity or the ingestion of toxic substances, and vascular or viral diseases. While some suffer with it for years, others either say it goes away or they’ve adapted to it and it’s not as noticeable.

For those who live with a severe case of tinnitus, it can have a negative impact on their life. Some people have trouble sleeping or concentrating, and in some cases, they even have insomnia. Frequent pain and mood swings are normal symptoms, as are unreasonable irritation and frustration with situations beyond their control.

Among patients living with tinnitus, depression is common due to the inability to get a good night sleep as well as distress over the fact it has no cure. It’s a good idea to seek support for the issue wherever you can find it, such as going to a sleep specialist, speaking to a counselor about strong feelings or depression you may be feeling, or dental specialist, in addition to your audiologist.

This group structure of support works well for some, while others get more relief going to see their general practitioner for a potential medical cause for their tinnitus. However, an audiologist can help you determine if a hearing device is a viable option, or if you already have one, they can talk you through any options for changes you might qualify for. These doctors receive special training to deal with this condition as well as many others relating to hearing loss.

If hearing aids are an option, there are many advantages to using them. You can enjoy better communication with others as they will be able to expand any low-level sounds in the background that are currently just annoying murmurs. There is also the likelihood that being able to hear better will have a positive effect on the stress levels you currently feel. It might also help ease any feelings of depression as you’ll be able to interact more thoroughly with those around you.

Hearing devices can also help reduce the fatigue one may feel due to the extra energy needed to concentrate on what’s going on around them. Once you have adapted to a well-fitted device, your quality of life with tinnitus can improve. With normal sounds getting in, there is a decreased chance that you will hear the effects of the sounds of tinnitus.

If you live with the constant sounds of whistling or the intermittent chirping of crickets, there is a strong possibility you could benefit from the knowledge and skills of a qualified audiologist. Call today to make an appointment to learn what options are available to help you.

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