What is Tinnitus?
According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. This phenomenon is usually described as a “ringing in the ears.” However, tinnitus can present as buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, or even clicking. Patients can experience this as a temporary condition or unfortunately as an ongoing disorder. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree.
Two Types of Tinnitus
- Subjective: This is the most common form of tinnitus. The perceived noise can only be heard by the specific patient. This form of tinnitus is said to be caused by the neurological reactions to hearing loss.
- Objective: This is the rarest form of tinnitus. These noises can be heard by other people as well as the patient. These sounds usually stem from an internal bodily function like blood flow or musculo-skeletal movement.
While there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are a few ways you can treat the problem and ease the effects of this issue.
- Sound therapy: Hearing aids or tinnitus maskers can help the brain ignore specific frequencies that cause tinnitus. Beltone offers the Tinnitus Calmer app. This free smartphone app offers a combination of sound therapy and relaxing exercises that aim to distract your brain from focusing on your tinnitus.
- General wellness: While diet, exercise and social activities don’t have a direct impact on the causes of tinnitus, these things can help your overall lifestyle and wellness. Try to control your blood pressure, decrease your salt intake, monitor stimulants like caffeine, tobacco and aspirin. Make sure you get plenty of rest and exercise. When you feel healthy in these areas in your life, living with tinnitus may not feel as burdensome.
- Psychological: Cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful for patients who suffer from tinnitus because it is said to reduce the amount of stress. Relaxation techniques can also be helpful. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has even created a protocol called Progressive Tinnitus Management that helps treat the effects of tinnitus.
If you are living with tinnitus and are seeking relief; your first step should be to contact a hearing care practitioner for a comprehensive hearing evaluation. Click here to find your nearest Beltone location, or call 1-800-Beltone if you have any questions regarding tinnitus or to schedule a FREE hearing evaluation.