Hearing Loss

Learning About Tinnitus

Hearing Loss

Learning About Tinnitus

One of the common reasons for consulting an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, or an Audiologist is the presence of tinnitus, which is commonly known as ringing in the ears. It can be manifested as different noises like a hissing, crackling, or a low frequency motor noise in the ear. Most of the tinnitus is subjective (the brain hears a noise that it is not present in the environment), and only 5% can be objective (Produced by noises in the body, like the heartbeat, or noises from the lungs).

Frequently, the cause of the tinnitus is unknown, but there are some factors that can trigger it like a circulatory system disorder, exposure to loud noise, ear injury, concussion, wax in the ear canal, or fluid in the middle ear. Tinnitus can be associated to hearing loss, but not everybody with tinnitus has hearing loss. The tinnitus can last for short periods of time, or it can be a constant noise in one or both ears that can be very irritating for the patient, to the point that it interferes in their normal activities. Anxiety, depression, insomnia or stress, can exacerbate the condition.

The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) shows that 43% of Canadians aged 16 to 79 had experienced tinnitus during their lifetime and about 35% experienced it within the past year (Feder K, Michaud D, McNamee J, Fitzpatrick E, Davies H, Leroux T. Prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing loss, and hearing protection usage among a representative sample of working Canadians. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2017; 59(1):92-113.

Although there is no cure known for tinnitus, there are approaches that the Hearing Care Professional can make depending on each singular case. The following are some of the approaches:

  1. Tinnitus retraining therapy: This therapy gradually teaches the brain to forget or not to pay attention to the tinnitus, and to concentrate in something different. This treatment requires constant cooperation from the patient in integration with Hearing Professional.
  2. Relaxation and meditation techniques: These techniques are also part of the tinnitus retraining program or can be used independently. As there is an important correlation between tinnitus and stress and anxiety, these techniques will help the patient to concentrate less on the noise, and to relax the brain to function better.
  3. Apps available: There are different kind of Apps where you can find nature sounds along with meditation techniques to reduce the volume of the tinnitus and to get relaxation while listening to them.
  4. Hearing aids wit Tinnitus maskers: When amplification is required, the patient can use a hearing aid that will help to improve the hearing, and to manage the tinnitus with a program that includes the masker. Zen program is available in Widex hearing aids, and it is a combination of fractal tones that have been proven to improve the condition while wearing the hearing device. If the person doesn’t need amplification, yet it can wear the same hearing aid but with no amplification, only with the Zen sounds.
  5. The counseling from the Hearing Care Professional, or the Audiologist, is important for the patient, as they will guide you in the best way to approach and treat your problem.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, and want to know more, book a consultation with the Audiologist who will address your concerns and will find the option that might work for your treatment.

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