Next week is Tinnitus Awareness Week in Canada and around the globe. If you’ve been living with tinnitus, unfortunately you know more than you want to know about this agonizing condition. However, for people new to tinnitus, or who might be friends or family members of individuals dealing with “ringing in the ears,” here’s a quick refresher:
So, Tinnitus is…
Tinnitus is the medical terminology to describe the sensation of hearing sound in your ears when no external sound is present. In the majority of cases, it is a subjective sound, meaning only the person experiencing tinnitus hears the sound. Some describe their tinnitus as ringing in the ears, but others will say their tinnitus sounds more like hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring or even chirping.
For a lot of people, tinnitus is sporadic, but mild. Although for others, it can be intense and go on and on 24/7. For everyone though, there is a dire need for peace and quiet, a fix to their problem. The strong need for satisfaction often leads patients to attempt nearly anything to make their tinnitus less aggravating, including resorting to acupuncture, eardrops, hypnosis, herbal remedies and much more.
Tinnitus affects more than 9 million Canadians, or 37% of the adult population. That’s nearly 2 out of 5 adults !
What are the causes of tinnitus?
Professional health experts and scientists still aren’t 100% sure about the cause of tinnitus. However, several sources are known to trigger or worsen ringing in the ears, including:
- Loud Noises and Hearing Loss — Exposure to loud noises can destroy the non-regenerative cilia (tiny hairs) in the cochlea, causing permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Noise-induced tinnitus is often the result of exposure to loud environmental noises, such as working in a factory setting, with or around heavy machinery, or even a single event like a gunshot or loud concert.
- Aging — Natural aging, too, gradually destroys the cilia, and is a leading cause of hearing loss. Tinnitus is a common symptom of age-related hearing loss.
- Ototoxic Medications — Some prescription medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, diuretics and others can be ototoxic, meaning they are harmful to the inner ear as well as the nerve fibers connecting the cochlea to the brain.
- Health Conditions — Tinnitus has been associated with a number of health conditions, including:
➢ Ménière’s disease
➢ Jaw misalignment
➢ Auditory, vestibular or facial nerve tumors
➢ Stress and fatigue
➢ Cardiovascular disease
➢ Hypertension (high blood pressure)
➢ Thyroid problems
➢ Fibromyalgia and chronic pain
➢ Head or neck trauma
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
As of the publish date of this article, there is no known cure for tinnitus. Although, according to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), options for effective treatment are available. “Lowering the perceived burden of tinnitus” is the treatment goal due since tinnitus can’t be cured at this time .
Hearing aids are also a popular treatment recommendation by the ATA. They can help in a number of ways, most importantly by masking the tinnitus sound .
Today, all Starkey hearing aids feature our Multiflex Tinnitus Technology. Proven clinically to help give relief, this Starkey technology produces a comforting and customizable sound stimulus that can be extensively adjusted to soothe your aggravating tinnitus sounds and help it not be the center of attention in your mind.
If you have tinnitus you should do this…
Since the exact cause of tinnitus is unknown, visiting a hearing healthcare professional for a clinical evaluation is a smart first step. This evaluation can help determine the intensity of the tinnitus and what may be causing it. Specialized tests can also be performed to evaluate your auditory system. Some of these tests measure the specific features of the tinnitus itself, and could include:
- Evoked response audiometry
- Tinnitus pitch match
- Tinnitus loudness match
This evaluation is also a perfect time to talk to your hearing professional about tinnitus treatment options, including Starkey's Multiflex Tinnitus Technology.
We are here for you and want help
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — anytime there is an entire week devoted to one thing, it must be important. But as leaders in hearing health and wellness, Starkey doesn't need a special week to appreciate the seriousness of tinnitus. That's why we're committed to helping people find relief 52 weeks a year, every year.
If you want to find a hearing healthcare professional to talk to about tinnitus, we can help. Call (888) 919-6824 or just click here, and we can refer you to a well qualified provider near you.