A constant, loud, high-pitched, ringing noise. Whether you're in complete silence or not, it follows you everywhere. This is tinnitus. But maybe it's not a ringing, it's a hissing, or a buzzing or whistling sound. It happens occasionally, it's very faint and only comes at night. Either way, this is tinnitus.
Any noise heard inside your head or your ears that does not come from an outside source is called tinnitus and it affects up to 20% of Australians. How it is experienced varies, it can be faint, loud, constant, steady, annoying, not bothersome. It can be a ringing, buzzing, hissing or even the sound of waves. But it is most noticeable in quiet surroundings and when tired or stressed.
Tinnitus is not a disease itself but is a symptom of other diseases. From ear infections to hearing loss and head injuries, tinnitus can be a symptom of many hearing and health related problems. Regardless of the cause, how it is experienced will differ between people and it can become quite bothersome. Although there are no cures for tinnitus there are many popular treatment options to help manage the distraction.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Affecting people on not just a physical but also psychological level, a more holistic approach in treatment is required, which tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) provides. TRT acts to support those experiencing tinnitus on both a conscious and subconscious level by providing sound therapy in conjunction with psychological treatment strategies.
The main focus of tinnitus treatment options is directed towards diverting attention away from the ringing and buzzing. Both sound therapy and psychological therapy focus on developing a patient's resistance to the noises as well as stress management and relaxation. It is a soothing process that is designed to have patients accustomed to the tinnitus noises they are experiencing.
While TRT delivers a more therapeutic treatment option, tinnitus maskers are an attempt at achieving more functionality. These devices produce calming white noise in order to combat the irritable tinnitus sounds. With tinnitus coming in all different forms, a consultation with an audiologist is recommended for a more customised solution. The white noise produced can be adjusted by the hearing health specialist to a similar level as the noise in order to cover it up.
A common analogy is often used to describe the functionality of tinnitus maskers. Individual raindrops falling onto a roof may be noticeable when it begins to rain, but as it starts pouring more heavily, over time individual raindrops are drowned out and the sound of rain in general may pass unnoticed.
As simple and convenient a treatment option as tinnitus maskers already are, they are made even more functional, being able to be programmed into most digital hearing aids https://nhc.com.au/hearing-aids. A majority of people who have tinnitus are also experiencing hearing loss to some extent and a combination of these two instruments provides an advanced device with much more practical capabilities.
Tinnitus is a symptom, and like with most other cases, the focus of treatment should not be directed towards relieving the symptom but the underlying cause which the symptom is an indicator of. Although tinnitus itself may not have a cure, there have been many cases where tinnitus will fade alongside the condition it is linked to. Some underlying causes that have been known to alleviate tinnitus with their treatment are obstructions in the ear canal, head and neck trauma and some prescription medicines.
The most commonly associated condition with tinnitus however, is sensorineural hearing loss, mainly caused by exposure to loud noise as well as age. Understanding the potential for hearing damage to cause tinnitus, it is important to take necessary precautions against hearing loss https://bayaudiology.co.nz/steps-to-better-hearing. This alongside seeking early treatment will be beneficial in improving and maintaining hearing health.
With so many possible underlying causes and potential forms of treatment for tinnitus, advice from a hearing healthcare professional is recommended for a personalised solution that be will be able to cater to any lifestyle and preferences.