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Tinnitus

TINNITUS—first how do we say it? (TIN-i-tus or tin-NIGHT-us) Both are considered the correct pronunciation. It seems that people on the West Coast tend to say tin-NIGHT-us and on the East Coast they say TIN-i-tus. Here in the middle of America we can say it either way just like tomato [to-may-to/to-mah-to].

What is Tinnitus?

Quite simply, if you have the sensation of hearing a sound and nothing in the environment is making a sound, you are experiencing tinnitus. In a very quiet room, most people will experience mild fleeting tinnitus. Many people hear ringing in their ears after a period of noise exposure at a concert, hunting, or attending a loud sporting event. This is usually temporary but it does indicate you were exposed to a dangerous level of sound. Repeated noise injuries can result in hearing loss and tinnitus as a permanent problem. For most people who experience tinnitus, it is a minor annoyance but there are many for whom tinnitus becomes very disturbing and it interferes with their daily life and sense of wellbeing. For those 17 million Americans, tinnitus interferes with their sleep, concentration, and ability to perform and enjoy daily activities to the extent that they seek help for their tinnitus.

What causes tinnitus?

There are many causes of tinnitus. At the Tinnitus Treatment Center we take a look at your medical history, medications, noise exposure history, hearing test results, dietary and sleep habits as well as physical and emotional state at the onset of the tinnitus to help determine what may have caused the tinnitus. There is no sense in treating the tinnitus symptom if we can refer you for further evaluation and treatment of a medical condition that could be causing your tinnitus. We like to work with your primary physician and specialists to rule out medical causes of tinnitus. Some common known causes are listed below.

  • Noise Exposure Head/Neck Trauma Thyroid disorders Lyme’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Certain types of tumors Wax Build-up
  • Jaw Misalignment Heart Disease Medications (ototoxic)
  • Abnormal Blood Flow (Rare Pulsatile Tinnitus)

Where does tinnitus come from?

This is a hotly debated topic in the tinnitus research arena. Some say it rises from the ears, others say the brainstem, yet others site the brain. There are many studies searching for the origin and researchers will likely understand tinnitus better someday and this may lead to a true CURE. But the origin of the tinnitus in our anatomy does not seem to determine whether or not a person will become disturbed by it.

When tinnitus becomes intrusive in your life, it indicates that a feedback loop has been created within your nervous system. This feedback loop interferes with your body’s natural ability to habituate to the tinnitus signal. The inability to habituate means that the tinnitus cannot be ignored, it is always in “focus” and it never “blurs” into the background. This can cause a great deal of stress and interfere with enjoyment of life as well as other activities of daily living. Habituation typically occurs very naturally. For example, you sit down on a chair and at first you feel your tush resting comfortably on the seat. Within a couple seconds, you are no longer aware of the chair you are sitting on. You have habituated to the chair. Another example, you walk into your friend’s home and they cooked fish for supper. You can smell the fish for a few minutes but then you habituate and are no longer are aware of the odor. This happens naturally. If another person arrives at the house and asks “did you have fish for supper?” we may be aware of the odor again for a couple minutes but then it fades again. When tinnitus is intrusive, this natural habituation system is interrupted and must be reset. The process of resetting is different for each person. The Audiologists at Tinnitus Treatment Center assess your tinnitus and examine your individual loop, then create an individualized plan to aid you in the retraining process.

How is tinnitus treated?

There are a variety of treatments used for tinnitus. The audiologists at Tinnitus Treatment Center will be able to recommend the best treatment plan for your individual situation after a thorough evaluation. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is the base theory for our methods but, as mentioned before, we use a holistic approach based on your individual needs that include the following types of treatments:

  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
  • Sound Therapy
  • Combination Hearing Instruments
  • Neuromonics
  • Lifestyle Coaching: Nutrition/Sleep Hygiene/Healthy Habits/ Supplements
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Mind-Body Medicine

Next Steps:

Call Tinnitus Treatment Center to schedule a consultation with one of our talented and caring Audiologists. 218-623-1045