What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus also is known as “ringing in the ears” is the perception of sounds that are not produced by a source outside of the body.  Tinnitus is a “phantom” auditory perception generated somewhere in the auditory pathways.  Individuals may describe these sensations as “ringing”, “buzzing”, “roaring”, “hissing”, or “rushing”.  The prevalence of tinnitus is about 10 – 15% of the adult population, however, only about 20% of these individuals are actually bothered by their tinnitus.  Tinnitus can affect or interfere with an individual’s ability to hear, concentrate, and/or sleep at night.  Untreated tinnitus may lead to sleep disorders, depression, ptsd, anxiety, anger, and other psychological effects.

Our audiologists use the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory test which helps us to assess the severity of the effects of tinnitus on each individual.  If you think that you may be suffering from the negative effects of tinnitus, take the THI test here and see how you score. Click here to download, print and complete the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory test.

Tinnitus Treatment

Types of tinnitus treatment include masking, cognitive behavioral therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), progressive tinnitus management therapy (PTM), and sound generators.  Sound stimulation, counseling, and habituation are inherent to all forms of tinnitus therapy and are modified to each individual patient’s needs. The main concept of treatment is to help manage and minimize the negative effects of tinnitus and to break the negative emotional reaction that tinnitus so often causes. Our tinnitus treatment focus is to support the way the brain makes sense of sound and our treatment options and devices are built on this mindset.

Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss as 90% of individuals with tinnitus also have hearing loss.  However, tinnitus is also considered a disorder involving the brain. The brain compensates for hearing loss by turning up inner volume control. For some individuals, the brain begins to amplify sounds that would otherwise go unnoticed – and so, tinnitus is born and a cycle of emotional distress begins.

For many patients, amplification is an effective first step in managing their tinnitus.  Approximately 80% of patients report relief and lessening of their tinnitus symptoms simply through the use of prescription-based digital hearing instruments.  We now also have the ability to use a sound therapy approach by providing low-level sound generators built into the hearing instruments.  We can adjust these sounds according to patient preference, reducing the starkness of the tinnitus in the auditory brain. Research indicates that sound input needs to produce activity in the brain that is both reliable and synchronous in order to help break this negative cycle. We recognize that ‘no one sound suits all’ and our solutions reflect a need to have many sound options available, amongst them ocean sounds, modulated sounds, and broadband sounds. Each patient can be given the sound input most compatible with their perception of what works best.

Watch Video Below and Learn More about Tinnitus

The first step to treating your tinnitus is obtaining a diagnostic hearing evaluation including a tinnitus matching test completed by a licensed audiologist.  Contact us today at one of the Hornell & Dansville Hearing Centers near you and schedule an appointment with our audiologist today.