Tinnitus is a term used to describe a ringing noise, buzzing, or perhaps chirping noises in the ears, even when there is no sound present in the environment.

tinnitus-hearing-loss1If this applies to you, you are not alone. In fact, it has been estimated that a minimum of 50 million individuals in the United States are affected by some form of tinnitus.

There are a number of factors that can trigger the onset of tinnitus, but damage to the tiny sensory cells located in the inner ear is a common cause. Such damage is often the result of exposure to loud noise or music, and degeneration of the sensory cells is also an unfortunate consequence of the aging process.

Tinnitus has additionally been linked to ear infections, high blood pressure, excessive use of aspirin, treatment with certain antibiotics, consuming large amounts of caffeine and/or alcohol, and even smoking.

Finally, tinnitus can be a symptom of a more serious health issue, and one should be evaluated by a physician to insure a specific medical problem is not present.

Once such medical causes have been ruled out, treatment options are available.

If hearing loss is present, oftentimes simply providing appropriate amplification of sound through the use of hearing aids will result in tinnitus relief.

Recent research suggests when hearing loss is present, the brain creates its own sound to replace what is missing due to hearing impairment. Properly programmed hearing aids can result in sound stimulation, so the brain does not focus as much on the tinnitus.

Sound stimulation can also be achieved through the use of sound therapy, or tinnitus masking, which can take the form of environmental sounds, music, or certain types of noise.

ear-defense-packaging-265x415Most of the major hearing aid manufacturers have begun to include noise generators within their hearing aids that can be activated by an audiologist or other hearing health care individual who has been trained in tinnitus management.

Masking noises can be used to decrease the stress often associated with severe tinnitus and are effective in helping people direct their focus away from their tinnitus in quiet or silent environments.

Such sound therapy in combination with stress reduction exercises and educational counseling provide a comprehensive approach to effective tinnitus management.

If you are one of the 50 million persons affected adversely by tinnitus and wish to calm the “ringing beast,” your first step is to seek out a hearing health care practice trained in tinnitus management.

Don’t get Tinnitus. Protect your hearing now!

A professional assessment will be carried out which should include an audiologic evaluation (hearing test), completion of tinnitus questionnaires — measurement of tinnitus pitch, loudness, and other factors — as well as educational counseling and the possible demonstration of hearing aids and tinnitus masking devices.

Based on this comprehensive assessment, a program and recommendations can be developed to meet your specific needs.

There is hope for tinnitus relief, if you are willing to explore available options.

Denice Brown