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What is Tinnitus?

According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), tinnitus is experienced by more than 25 million American adults. Tinnitus is pronounced either “ti-night-us” or “tinn-a-tus”. It is described as a variety of sounds including a ringing, buzzing, hissing, heartbeat, clicking, wind noise, chirping, etc. The sound can be constant or intermittent, and in one or both ears. Tinnitus can fluctuate in volume, pitch, and severity. It is not a disease, but a symptom of something wrong in the hearing system.

Causes of Tinnitus:

  • Hearing Loss

  • Aging

  • Noise exposure

  • Ear wax

  • Allergies, congestion, and sinus issues

  • Head or neck injuries, including a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear

  • Meniere’s disease

  • Benign tumor of the 8th nerve

  • Dental issue, including TMJ or teeth grinding

  • Side effect of certain medications

    • NSAIDs such as Bayer (aspirin), Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen), and Aleve.

    • Certain antibiotics

    • Platinum chemotherapy drugs

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but instead ways to manage it. Tinnitus management techniques include:

  • Hearing aid use with a tinnitus program

  • Hearing protection use in noisy environments

  • Dietary restrictions such as reducing salt, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol

  • Reduce stress

  • Sound therapy shifts the brain’s focus to a different sound that you control, which in turn diminishes the emotional impact of the tinnitus. You can access sound therapy tools with phone applications such as ReSound Relief, Widex Zen, and Calm.

  • Avoid silence by sleeping with a fan, white noise machine, or television on

  • Partaking in enjoyable activities

  • Meditation and relaxation

When should I see a doctor? A hearing evaluation by an audiologist is recommended if you or a loved one experiences tinnitus.

Sound Therapy Links:

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