Tinnitus is that annoying and persistent ringing heard in one or both ears. For some, this is a high-pitched, 24/7 ringing. Tinnitus can be very loud for some, and it can come and go for seemingly no reason. Others talk about a lively pulse that matches every heartbeat. Whatever type of tinnitus you are suffering from, the results are often identical: stress, anxiety, and the fear that it may never leave.
Around 25 million Americans – 10 percent of the population in the US –suffer tinnitus. Sixty percent of veterans returning from combat areas register tinnitus cases and hearing loss.
Tinnitus can, at any moment, affect everyone. In reality, most people have had short-lived experiences with tinnitus, which can last from a few seconds to a few minutes anywhere. If after a live rock show or a live sporting event, you heard a strange sound in your ear – both places with high sound levels – you have had temporary tinnitus.
We can’t yet cure tinnitus. But luckily, there are ways of treating it and keeping its frustrating effects at bay. Make sure you have your hearing tested first. Tinnitus is often the first symptom of a loss of hearing. For some people, tinnitus may be the way the auditory system “creates” sounds that it lacks due to a loss of hearing.
Following your hearing test, here are some ideas for treatment your audiologist may recommend.
Sound-masking devices provide a pleasant or benign outside noise that partially drowns out the tinnitus’ internal sound. A tabletop sound machine is the traditional sound-masking device, but there are also small electronic devices that fit in the ear. Such devices can play white noise, pink noise, noise from nature, music, or other ambient sounds. Some people prefer an ambient sound level that is just slightly louder than their tinnitus, but others prefer a masking tone that drowns out the ringing entirely.
Tinnitus is closely linked to stress and anxiety. Not only are people with high levels of anxiety more likely to suffer from tinnitus, but stress also plays a role in the severity of tinnitus symptoms, as well as how people can cope with those symptoms successfully. In short, the more stressed you are, the more susceptible you are to ringing ears.
By learning to relax, you can best help yourself with your symptoms. Many people who practice regular relaxation techniques say that they reduce their tinnitus’ loudness and help them to become indifferent to their noise. It can also help with stress and the anxiety associated with tinnitus.
Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This can be useful, either as a stand-alone therapy or in conjunction with sound care. By using techniques to help you deal with anxiety and distress, CBT can help you manage the impact of tinnitus on your lives. This allows you to realize the state of your thinking process so that your emotions can become more optimistic.
Cognitive-behavioral programs usually involve tracking thoughts and noting when tinnitus creates the most significant disturbance for you. You will then discuss your ideas and be supported to change the way you think about tinnitus.
Several studies have explored how hearing aids impact tinnitus patients ‘ everyday lives, such as how a hearing aid can lead to tinnitus reduction and quality of life. Other studies have shown that hearing aids reduce the effect of tinnitus in a significant number of people. It has been proved that bilateral auditory aids (one per ear) can be more advantageous than just using other tinnitus support.
Healthy adaptation to hearing aids and rehabilitation to normal levels of sound usually only takes a few weeks. When this adjustment time has ended, it’s easier to wear hearing aids everyday. Indeed, many come to rely on them for their everyday lives. When hearing loss is addressed, and the sounds around them become more prominent, many become less aware of their tinnitus.