» Ringing In Your Ears? There Is Hope!

Ringing In Your Ears? There Is Hope!

Tinnitus, the perception of ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears or head without any external sound source, is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The impact of tinnitus on one’s quality of life can vary immensely. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of tinnitus testing, even for those who do not find their tinnitus bothersome. We will also discuss various management strategies that can help patients find relief from their tinnitus and regain control over their lives.

Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a common condition, affecting 10% to 25% of the general population and is more common in older adults. Tinnitus is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. It can manifest as a constant or intermittent sound that varies in pitch and volume. Some patients describe their tinnitus as a ringing, while others may perceive it as buzzing, humming, hissing, pulsing, or whooshing.

Tinnitus Complications

Tinnitus affects everyone differently, but it can greatly impact one’s quality of life. Patients dealing with pre-existing anxiety and depression are more likely to be impacted by tinnitus.

Patients with tinnitus may experience the following: difficulty hearing conversation over the tinnitus, trouble focusing, fatigue, stress, problems with memory, headaches, depression, anxiety, and irritability.

When To See An Audiologist

Individuals experiencing tinnitus should have their hearing tested by a registered audiologist. Some common causes of tinnitus are hearing loss, especially hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure, pathology of the outer and/or middle ear such as wax buildup and ear infections, head or neck trauma, and medications. Some less common causes of tinnitus are chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and vascular disorders.

Tinnitus can also be worsened by poor diet, poor sleep habits, stress, and lack of exercise.

*Have your hearing tested as soon as possible if you are experiencing tinnitus with hearing loss and/or vertigo/dizziness. 

 

Tinnitus Testing

When a patient comes to us with concerns about their tinnitus, we use various diagnostic tests to better understand the underlying causes and potential contributing factors of their tinnitus. These tests may include:

  • Comprehensive Audiological Evaluation: This evaluation assesses the patient’s ability to hear and identifies any hearing loss that may be associated with tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus Matching: This is used to determine the pitch and loudness of the perceived sound(s). This information helps us create tinnitus management therapies specific to each individual patient.
  • Tinnitus Questionnaires: Questionnaires such as the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) help us assess the impact of tinnitus on the patient’s daily life, emotional well-being, and overall functioning.

Tinnitus Management Strategies

While there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are several management strategies that can help patients find relief and cope with their tinnitus. As an audiologist, I work closely with my patients to develop personalized management plans based on their specific lifestyle and needs. Here are some common strategies:

  1. Hearing Aids: Hearing aids can help amplify external sounds and provide a distraction from the internal noise. This is known as “masking”. Masking via hearing aid use is an effective tinnitus therapy for tinnitus patients with and without hearing loss.
  2. Sound Therapy: Various sound-based therapies, such as white noise, pink noise, or nature sounds, can also help mask or reduce the perception of tinnitus. These can be delivered through wearable devices, smartphone apps, or sound machines.
  3. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT): TRT combines sound therapy with counseling to help patients habituate to the tinnitus and reduce its emotional impact over time.
  4. Tinnitus Activities Treatment (TAT): TAT explores four impact areas of tinnitus: thoughts and emotions, hearing and communication, sleep, and concentration. The process also generally uses low-level sound therapy for masking purposes.
  5. Lifestyle Modifications: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, including regular exercise, stress reduction techniques, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet, can contribute to overall well-being and may indirectly help manage tinnitus.

Additional Tinnitus Management Strategies By Other Health Professionals

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Psychologists or therapists use CBT techniques to help patients reframe their thoughts and emotions associated with tinnitus, reducing stress and anxiety related to the condition.
  2. Medications: In some cases, physicians such as family physicians and psychiatrists may prescribe medications such as antidepressants and antianxiety drugs to alleviate tinnitus symptoms.

Support and Education

Living with tinnitus can be challenging. Patients suffering from tinnitus are encouraged to book an appointment with our clinic. We are here to provide support, education, and peace of mind. Audiologists play a crucial role in demystifying tinnitus, offering counseling and management therapies, and connecting patients with support groups or online communities where they can share experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges.

If you or a loved one are suffering from tinnitus and/or hearing loss book an appointment today for an assessment or a consultation.

halifax-aid-hearing-doctor

Blog Author

Lyndsay Bozec

REGISTERED AUDIOLOGIST, NSCASLP

Lyndsay is a passionate advocate for hearing health awareness and hearing preservation. Over the years she has delivered various hearing health presentations and hearing aid workshops for caregiver workshops across HRM.

Clayton Park Audiology Blog

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Osteoporosis

What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease that slowly and quietly weakens bones over time leading to increased risk of fracture. According to Osteoporosis Canada, ...

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Fall Risk

Falls are a leading cause of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations among Canadian seniors. According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, falls result ...

The Cost of Untreated Hearing Loss

The consequences of untreated hearing loss can be significant and far-reaching, especially if left untreated for years. Beyond the immediate challenges faced by individuals with ...

The Effects of Stress on Our Hearing

Stress levels in the general population have been increasing steadily over several years. In recent years, the Covid-19 Pandemic, natural disasters suggesting global climate change, ...

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Audiologists and other hearing specialists have assumed the link between hearing health and cognitive health for years. While it's well-known that untreated hearing loss can ...

Ear Wax Do’s and Don’ts

Maintaining healthy ears and healthy hearing is an essential aspect of overall well-being. Impacted wax in the ear canal can cause decreased hearing and discomfort. ...