Advanced Hearing Care is one of a few sites in South Carolina that has been certified and trained to treat tinnitus using the new breakthrough tinnitus treatment called Neuromonics and Sound Cure Serenade. Please continue reading to learn more about tinnitus and how you can obtain relief.
What is tinnitus?
The definition of tinnitus (pronounced “ti-nuh-tis” or “tuh-neye-tus”) is a ringing in the ears or another sound that seems to originate in the ears or head. The sound is not present in the external environment and is most commonly only heard by the person affected by tinnitus. Tinnitus can be described as many different sounds including: ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, clicking, fluttering, crickets chirping, horns blowing, lawn mowers in the distance, or even train whistles. Individuals may experience tinnitus in one ear, both ears, or may perceive the sound as “unlocalized” or “somewhere in my head.”
Tinnitus may be described as a constant sound that never seems to go away or it may be intermittent in nature and seem to come and go. Tinnitus may also fluctuate in character and intensity.
How common is it?
Tinnitus is very common; over fifty million Americans are reported to experience tinnitus to some degree. However, each person is affected by tinnitus differently. Some individuals are never bothered by tinnitus and others are debilitated by the condition. Statistics show that one to two million Americans are disturbed to the point that they can no longer function on a day-to-day basis. Approximately ten million Americans are known to seek treatment for their tinnitus or have at least discussed their symptoms with their health care practitioner.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is closely related to hearing loss. The range of hearing loss may or may not be within the frequency range of speech; therefore, many individuals with tinnitus may not even suspect they are having hearing difficulties. The frequency range of the English language is primarily between the frequencies of 500 Hertz to 4000 Hertz while the human ear can detect sounds ranging from 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz.
Hearing loss may be sensorineural in nature, meaning the sensitive nerve endings in the inner ear have been injured. This type of damage may be caused by noise exposure, disease, genetics, or the normal aging process. Sensorineural hearing loss represents approximately 95% of all hearing loss.
Hearing loss may also be due to a conductive component, meaning there is a blockage in the external ear canal or middle ear space that prevents sound from being transmitted to the inner ear efficiently. This type of hearing loss, which represents approximately 5% of cases, may be the result of disease, trauma, or something as simple as impacted ear wax.
What treatments are available?
Despite recent advances in brain research and hearing science, there is no known cure for tinnitus at present. Many different treatments have been recommended to help mask the symptoms of tinnitus or decrease the disturbance from the sounds. Just as individuals are affected in different ways by tinnitus, various treatments may or may not be successful for different individuals. However, many primary care practitioners and even Ear Nose and Throat specialists still recommend coping strategies and “learning to live with it” after ruling out organic causes for tinnitus symptoms. Alternative treatments range from acupuncture treatments, to herbal supplements, to counseling, to anxiety-reducing medications. Some individuals have even gone so far as severing the hearing nerve surgically; however, most patients continue to experience tinnitus despite the sacrifice of all usable hearing on the side of the surgery. Exciting new treatments are available now that give new hope to tinnitus sufferers. Read below to learn more!
Who do I talk to about it?
As experience has shown, treatments of the past that focused on improving coping skills or masking out the tinnitus sounds have a low success rate for patients with tinnitus. That is why it is crucial for you to discuss your symptoms with a Doctor of Audiology who is specially trained to treat tinnitus.
With the advancement of hearing aid technology, Doctors of Audiology are now able to offer advanced hearing aid technology designed to treat hearing loss within the frequency range of speech. This approach may not only provide improved communication abilities but may also provide relief of tinnitus symptoms while wearing the hearing devices.
A groundbreaking new hearing aid technology called Widex Zen is available in a range of hearing aid sizes and styles. The innovative Zen program incorporates soothing chimes and tones with state of the art amplification that is finely tuned to each listener’s individual hearing profile. The relaxing sounds are set to the beat of the resting heart and can be customized for the wearer’s preferences. This Zen technology can be incorporated as part of a tinnitus treatment program and allows the wearer to treat hearing loss and tinnitus at the same time!
On the other hand, if the Doctor of Audiology determines that the patient is not a good hearing aid candidate or if the relief from tinnitus is not adequate, new sound therapy treatments called the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment or the Sound Cure Serenade system may be the answer. These structured programs focus on breaking the cycle of tinnitus disturbance by providing the brain with pleasant sound therapy. It aims to “retrain” your brain to filter out the tinnitus noise, thus reducing awareness of the tinnitus. The program is designed to generate a sense of empowerment for you and fosters the principle of relaxation.
To determine if you or a loved one may be a candidate for either hearing aids or one of our sound therapy tinnitus management programs, the first step is to schedule a comprehensive tinnitus assessment with the Doctors of Audiology at Advanced Hearing Care. Help is available and relief is now attainable!