It is important to have your tinnitus evaluated by a professional who can help you manage the irksome symptoms. Primary Tinnitus is a medical symptom that is characterized by persistent noise in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual.
The word is from the Latin word, tinnire, which means ringing. In addition to a ringing sound, patients may also hear a buzzing, hissing, sizzling, ticking, whooshing or pulsing in the ear. It can be soft or loud; high frequency or low. It can occur periodically or constantly, and the effects range from slight annoyance to severe disruptions of daily life.
Secondary tinnitus which is often called objective tinnitus is rarer. In this case, the ENT doctor can confirm the actual presence of the repetitive sound. An example of this is objective pulsatile tinnitus where the doctor, using a stethoscope, can confirm that the patient is hearing their own heart beating.
What causes Tinnitus?
There are many hearing conditions associated with tinnitus, but clinicians seem to agree that Noise Induce Hearing Loss (NIHL) is most commonly associated with tinnitus. Additionally, tinnitus can develop as a symptom of auditory complications from head and neck trauma, certain types of tumors, cardiovascular disease, ototoxicity, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, high or low blood pressure, and more.
Who gets Tinnitus?
If you are experiencing the tinnitus symptom, you are not alone. Up to 15% of Americans will seek a medical evaluation to reliever their tinnitus. Of the 50-million individuals who have tinnitus, only 1-2% consider it a significant problem that is bothersome and persistent. In a recent study, 31.4% of those in the 60 to 69 age group experienced tinnitus serious enough to require an evaluation.
How is Tinnitus evaluated?
We perform comprehensive tinnitus evaluations that include a history and physical exam. We will discuss Quality of Life (QOF) issues with you to establish the overall impact of tinnitus on your every-day life. For patients with persistent and bothersome tinnitus an audiometry test may be suggested to clarify if the symptom is indicative of a sensorineural condition. The tests will assess pitch matching, minimum masking levels, loudness discomfort levels, and residual inhibition. Persistent tinnitus can cause sleep disorders and emotional stress which may require the assistance of mental health professionals. Your ENT&AA clinical team will develop a personalized strategy to help you manage your tinnitus symptoms.
How do you manage Tinnitus?
Due to the personal and unique nature of tinnitus symptoms, your tinnitus management is determined on a highly personal, case by case basis. Although there isn’t a single cure for the tinnitus symptom, the ENT & AA clinical team will work with you to develop an effective medical and symptom management strategy that will improve your quality of life issues.
Many people are able to live with their tinnitus symptoms with little bother and no impact on their quality of life. Simple noise avoidance strategies may help. If the symptoms become bothersome and begin to impact on quality of life issues, it is time to ask for another evaluation.
There is no single “cure” for primary tinnitus that has become bothersome and significantly impacts on your quality of life. ENT&AA professionals are skilled at helping individuals manage their tinnitus symptoms so that they can enjoy life again.
Hearing Aid Evaluation
There is a strong correlation between hearing loss and tinnitus. Your clinical team may recommend that in order to improve quality of life issues you should try using a hearing device.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
To improve quality of life, maskers such as music, nature sounds, white noise and other techniques can be used to dampen tinnitius symptoms. Directive counseling and cognitive behavior techniques have also helped individuals learn to cope with the symptoms and return to a more normal life.
Noise Reduction Strategies
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is correlated with tinnitus symptoms which indicates that noise pollution from our environment may play a role in triggering the symptom. Therefore, reducing noise pollution may help individuals manage their symptoms. There is no cure for tinnitus, but you can reduce noise pollution which may trigger the symptom by:
- Wear ear protection gear at noisy events like rock concerts or football games. This will help reduce the impact of noise levels on your hearing.
- Move away from loud noise sources to reduce impact on your inner ear.
- When using ear buds or headphones, turn down the volume to safe levels.
- Be alert to hazardous noises in your work and family environments and work to eliminate them.
- Educate your family members, friends and fellow workers by raising awareness about NIHL.
If you or someone you know is suffering from tinnitus, make an appointment with our team today.