Answers provided by Gina Kontz, M.A., Audiologist and owner of Hearing Care by Gina
Do you or a loved one experience a ringing in your ears that no one else can hear? If so, are there any treatment options to lessen the burden of this ringing?
Yes, this is called tinnitus and there are excellent tools to help patients manage their tinnitus. There is no cure for the perception of sounds or noise within the ears often described as ringing, humming, or buzzing, but there are ways to manage it.
Tinnitus can be triggered by a variety of causes but is commonly linked to hearing loss and the damage to the delicate sensory hair cells of the inner ear. Exposure to extremely loud sounds is one of the main causes of tinnitus. This condition is associated with ear infections, the natural aging process, and sensory nerve disorders. Activities such as smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and taking excessive amounts of aspirin or antibiotics may aggravate tinnitus.
If you are affected by tinnitus, your first step is to undergo a professional evaluation. Counseling with an experienced hearing health care professional such as an Audiologist or a Hearing Instrument Specialist trained in managing tinnitus improves chances of success in regaining your quality of life.
The effects of tinnitus can often be minimized by a combination of counseling and sound stimulation. Amplified sound from hearing and tinnitus devices, environmental influences, music, or sound from noise generators can help to minimize the contrast between the buzzing or ringing of tinnitus and the surrounding sound environment.
Hearing aids that provide both amplification and tinnitus sound therapy are often very effective in reducing the awareness of tinnitus. Likewise, tinnitus maskers are noise generators that can emit several types of sounds such as white noise, ocean waves, tropical rain forests, lake shore, or bird songs. This sound therapy can make the ringing far less noticeable by emitting a constant soothing soundtrack. Some popular manufacturers of tinnitus maskers are Sound Oasis and Marpac. Widex is a leader in tinnitus management, and they offer a free App available at the App Store and Google Play called Zen Tinnitus. This App enables your smart phone to become a tinnitus masker.
There are currently no FDA approved drugs specifically for the treatment of tinnitus. Unfortunately, there are many prescription medications that can cause tinnitus. So please check your prescriptions to see if tinnitus is a side effect of your medication and then talk with your doctor. Advertised cures such as Lipo Flavonoid or Quietus are not FDA approved and you do not need a doctor’s prescription if you choose to try them at your own risk.
Over 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, so you’re not alone if you have this condition. You can find out more information from the American Tinnitus Association or www.ata.org.
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Gina Kontz, M.A., Audiologist, is owner of Hearing Care by Gina located in Montevideo, MN, and offers hearing evaluations and hearing aid/tinnitus consultations. To make an appointment or learn more call (320) 321-1551, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website, www.hearingcarebygina.com.
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