According to the CDC, about 50 million Americans have experienced some degree of tinnitus, and of those, it is bothersome for 15 million and debilitating for 2 million.
Flex Audiology specializes in tinnitus management, so there’s a lot we can do to help. But first, let’s jump into what tinnitus is and what causes it.
What Is Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears?
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is defined as any sound in one or both ears that isn’t caused by an external source.
Many people describe the sound as a ringing, but upon further questioning, they tend to describe it as a buzzing, an air sound, a low hum, or a high-pitched constant tone.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is generally a symptom of something else going on in the brain or body that’s affecting the auditory system, but this doesn’t always mean it’s due to an underlying disease.
Many things can cause tinnitus such as:
- Earwax buildup
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Medications – Certain medications are known to damage the auditory system, such as those for treating cancer or kidney disease.
- Exposure to loud noise – From a single event or long-term exposure
- Hearing loss – About 90% of people who have tinnitus also have a hearing loss.
- COVID – Most recently, there has been an increase in complaints of tinnitus following a COVID vaccination or after having COVID.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Tinnitus?
We tend to think of tinnitus as the problem versus looking for the root cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, so when we find the root cause, it makes it easier to put the right treatment plan together.
What Happens During a Tinnitus Assessment?
Prior to a tinnitus assessment, you will fill out a couple of questionnaires to help us isolate factors such as timelines, health concerns, and activities that either help the tinnitus get better or cause the tinnitus to get worse.
During the assessment, your hearing system will be thoroughly checked, and your tinnitus will be matched in pitch and volume levels, so we know exactly what you are hearing.
At the end of the assessment, you will leave with a professional treatment plan.
Is There a Cure for Tinnitus?
- Some people with tinnitus that has lasted less than six months will have a spontaneous recovery.
- For others, changing their diet or medications or getting their ears cleaned can alleviate tinnitus.
However, for most patients, there is no cure for tinnitus, so we look at management strategies for the tinnitus that will give satisfactory relief.
What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears?
Thankfully, there are many successful treatments to choose from that work. The treatment options are adjusted based on the cause of the tinnitus. These can include:
- Diet changes – For example (sadly), stopping drinking coffee or not eating sugar helps.
- Earwax removal – Which we do in the office
- Exercise – This improves the blood flow to the brain.
- Education of the tinnitus – The more you know, the more you can help enhance your treatment.
- Sound therapy
- Hearing aids – Some patients notice instant relief.
- Maskers – Sounds that help distract the brain from the tinnitus sound
- Cognitive behavior therapy – This helps retrain the brain to focus on other sounds besides the tinnitus.
Who Is Qualified to Diagnose and Treat Tinnitus?
Audiologists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat tinnitus. However, tinnitus management is a specialized field, and patients should search for providers that have additional training in this area, such as myself.
One of the reasons why it’s so important to have your tinnitus diagnosed by an audiologist is that we make sure that any medical reasons for your tinnitus are treated properly first.
Concerned about Tinnitus?
I recommend that any patient with tinnitus gets scheduled for a tinnitus evaluation to determine if it’s something that can easily be treated. The right treatment plan will address every aspect of a person’s tinnitus — emotional, cognitive, and attentional — and help you quickly get back to living life the way you want to again.
Book your tinnitus evaluation via the form at the bottom of this page.
Call us at (812) 532-3011 with any questions you have about tinnitus care for yourself or a loved one. We look forward to helping.