Ringing, buzzing, hissing, and humming sounds are all descriptions of how various individuals describe tinnitus. Though it does not cause hearing loss, close to 80% of people suffering from tinnitus also have hearing loss, demonstrating that the two conditions tend to go hand in hand. There are many techniques used to manage tinnitus. Hearing aids are among them because they help restore accompanying hearing loss. A better understanding of tinnitus is one way for us to help you understand that there are solutions available for irritating and stressful ringing in your ears.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus symptoms may be constant, or it may come and go with the type and intensity of noise varying from one person to the next. The tones heard by those with tinnitus also vary from high-pitched, deep, low-pitched, or even a tone that changes pitches. It rarely presents in the same way for every individual.

Estimates of the number of individuals affected by tinnitus worldwide are between 10% and 15%, making it one of the most common adverse global health conditions. Unfortunately, no cure has been found for tinnitus. However, several methods are available to effectively manage its intensity and debilitating effects.

What Are The Causes Of Tinnitus?

Regardless of age or background, tinnitus can develop into a debilitating issue. The Central Gain Theory provides the most common explanation behind what causes the sounds that sufferers hear in their heads. The theory argues that a lack of capacity for the brain to process certain sounds causes it to create a “phantom” sound, similar to what amputees experience with “phantom limbs.” This explains why tinnitus and hearing loss track together. But what causes the reduced capacity to process the sounds being replaced by tinnitus. The most common causes include:

  • Loud noise from exposure to loud music, gunshots, explosions, construction equipment, or machinery.
  • Ototoxic medications also produce tinnitus as a side effect.
  • Aging reduces the number and quality of nerve fibers in the inner ear often associated with both sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus.
  • Sometimes earwax blockage can cause tinnitus.
  • Injury to the ears, neck, or head
  • Neurological disorders
  • Degeneration of bones in the middle ear
  • Upper respiratory infections or jaw popping joint (TMJ) disorders can cause tinnitus.

How Can Tinnitus Be Managed?

There are several types of tinnitus management options that provide relief. Some treatments are little more than gimmicks, but there are several techniques used to reduce symptoms. Not every technique will produce results, so tinnitus sufferers often have to pursue several before they find the one best suited for their particular condition. Management approaches include:

  • Stress and Anxiety Management. The stress of tinnitus tends to increase its intensity, adding anxiety and increased sound sensitivity, creating a vicious downward spiral. Exercise, counseling, medication, coping tactics, improving sleep, and eliminating smoking are a part of this approach.
  • Masking. This approach covers up the internal sounds of tinnitus using external sounds. Though this brings some relief, sound therapy that allows some tinnitus to remain audible helps individuals lessen perception and acclimate over time via habituation.
  • Hearing Aids. Because hearing loss and tinnitus have such a close association, this is considered one of the best approaches to managing tinnitus. Modern digital hearing aid technology with connectivity allows users to make use of stress management and masking techniques integrated into their hearing aids, applying all management techniques.

Upstate Hearing Instruments Helps You Take Control Over Your Tinnitus

No tinnitus treatment works immediately or for every person. In reality, taking control over tinnitus requires time, and a commitment to overcoming its effects. Upstate Hearing Instruments has the expertise and equipment to support your commitment and help you take control over your tinnitus. If you or a loved one in the Redding, CA area is struggling with tinnitus, contact us to have your questions answered or to schedule a tinnitus assessment.

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Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

After earning a degree in electronics in 1982, Ken began his career by doing hearing aid repairs. As a hearing device user since he was eight and now with over 30 years of experience fitting hearing aids, Ken personally understands the unique problems and solutions associated with hearing loss and hearing devices.