Imagine a loud alarm clock ringing or a kettle whistling or 1,000 cicadas in your room. Imagine these sounds in your ear or head and no way to turn them down or turn them off. This is tinnitus.
The experience of the tinnitus patient with disturbing tinnitus can vary from an intermittent to constant sound. The good news in 2009 is that while there is no cure for tinnitus there are treatments that can lessen the suffering. The old adage of "live with it" just doesn't apply anymore.
The tinnitus treatment plan can be formulated after a thorough audiological and medical evaluation have ruled out any treatable medical conditions that may account for the tinnitus or ringing perception.
Tinnitus is a perceived sound in the ear(s) or head where there is no external sound source. Tinnitus, pronounced ti-night-us or tin-i-tus, is of Latin origin meaning "to tinkle or to ring like a bell." Tinnitus may be perceived as a ringing, roaring, hissing, buzzing, or even music.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, approximately 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree. Twelve million Americans seek medical attention for their tinnitus and two million are seriously debilitated by their tinnitus.
Audiologists offer tinnitus evaluations, tinnitus counseling and device fittings to manage tinnitus and hyperacusis. Forty percent of tinnitus patients develop hyperacusis, which is sensitivity to every day sounds such as loud speech, silverware , dogs barking and office equipment sounds. Patients that plug their ears inappropriately may worsen their tinnitus and hyperacusis. Therefore, appropriate use of earplugs and sound enrichment are a key part of addressing tinnitus and hyperacusis (sound intolerance).
Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying otologic or ear disorder. Only disturbing tinnitus is treated following medical and audiological evaluations. Numerous treatments are available that include:
1. Medical management as needed
2. Appropriate use of ear protection
3. Tinnitus coping strategies
4. Hearing aids
5. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
7. Electrical Stimulation Therapy
9. Tinnitus maskers