Tinnitus Sufferers Don’t Have to Face a Lifetime of Ringing
You may have heard of tinnitus — or perhaps you’re hearing it right now. Approximately 50 to 60 million U.S. adults report hearing a ringing, hissing, or whistling in one or both ears that isn’t heard by others. This is referred to as a subjective health problem — one that is only experienced by the individual affected, and most of the time isn’t a medically measurable condition. Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire cure, despite how common it is among the general population.
The prevalence of tinnitus tends to increase with age, peaking among adults in their 60s. As many as 16 million adults state that the ringing is frequent, and some younger adults are now facing debilitating tinnitus with no idea where it may have come from. There are a number of possibilities as to the origin of an individual’s tinnitus, but we know from research on the subject that 4 in 5 individuals affected by tinnitus also have some degree of hearing loss. Newer research has focused on understanding how the brains of people with tinnitus are different from those without, indicating that tinnitus may be a neurological issue as much as it is a hearing issue.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Though we don’t know a great deal yet about the links between tinnitus and neurology, we do know the most common tinnitus triggers are loud noise–induced hearing loss, a head or neck injury, and jaw dysfunction. Tinnitus will sometimes occur temporarily after initial exposure to loud noises like those experienced at concerts or sporting events, while using power tools, or while firing weapons. Repeated exposure to sounds greater than 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.
Head & Neck Injury
Tinnitus Treatment Solutions
Though tinnitus has no cure, there are effective treatments that can alleviate even the worst ringing and howling. Some common treatment methods are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Weekly sessions promote relaxation techniques that restructure the way patients think about and respond to tinnitus, resulting in sounds that are significantly less bothersome.
- Tinnitus retraining therapy: A combination of counseling and sound therapy can help habituate the auditory system to tinnitus signals.
- Masking: A device that generates low-level noise and environmental sounds matches the pitch and volume of the tinnitus.
There are many other treatment methods, but it’s important to keep in mind that any website claiming to have a bulletproof cure is probably not all that reliable. Right now, there is no medically identified cure for tinnitus, so the methods suggested by those websites lack scientific credibility. But it’s important for you to know that you can get the help you need in treating your tinnitus. Visit your local audiology practice to get more details and to discuss solutions that have worked for many — and can work for you.