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Are Your Ears Ringing? It Could Be Tinnitus
Posted by MaryRose Hecksel AuD, CCC-A on November 20, 2015
Do you ever hear ringing in your ears, even when there’s no external sound present? If so, you have tinnitus – the perception of sound without an external source. Tinnitus affects more than 45 million people in the United States. It can impact thoughts and emotions, concentration, hearing and sleep. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom of one or more underlying health conditions. Nine out of ten people with tinnitus also have potentially treatable hearing loss.
Some common causes of tinnitus include:
• Age-related and noise-induced hearing loss
• Outer and middle ear problems (ear wax and ear infections)
• Medications with possible hearing and balance side effects
• Inner ear or auditory pathway disorders such as Meniere’s disease
• High blood pressure and heart disease
• Head and neck trauma, including traumatic brain injury
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatment options available. Most people who suffer from tinnitus can regain their former quality of life with proper management. Also, good habits like getting enough sleep and regular exercise, eating well, avoiding caffeine and nicotine and wearing hearing protection can reduce the aggravating effects of tinnitus.
Audiologists are educated hearing healthcare providers who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and hearing-related disorders, including tinnitus. When an audiologist finds potentially severe health issues, referrals are made to primary care physicians or ear, nose and throat physicians.
Tinnitus treatment options that an audiologist may provide include:
• Hearing aids - Amplify sounds in frequencies where hearing loss is identified and can help mask or partially mask the tinnitus.
• Sound therapy – Using a device that induces sound to distract attention (fan, music, noise generators, etc.)
• Cognitive behavior therapy – Helps a person with tinnitus understand how behaviors can make tinnitus worse.
• Tinnitus retraining therapy – Improves negative thoughts and emotions associated with tinnitus through counseling and applying sound enrichment to reduce the perception of it.
Tinnitus is real, and the difficulties it causes should not be dismissed. Although it can’t be cured, tinnitus can be treated! Make an appointment with an audiologist to start the treatment process and live a happier and healthier life.
Dr. MaryRose Hecksel AuD, CCC-A is a licensed audiologist with almost 30 years of experience, managing her own practice, Audiology & Hearing Aid Center, in Lansing. She earned her Master of Arts in Audiology from Michigan State University and her Doctorate of Audiology from A.T. Still University. Contact her at (517) 321-6801.