What is Tinnitus and How is it Treated?
There is nothing more annoying than a constant buzzing or ringing in the ears. If you’re trying to go about your normal business and you start noticing that you have a constant low hum in the background of your mind, then perhaps you have tinnitus.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a hearing condition that can leave you with a sound of hissing, ringing or buzzing inside the ears. It’s not a condition that is curative, but it is one that can be managed if you can identify the cause of your tinnitus. Booking an appointment with an audiologist can help you to narrow it down, but it’s important to note that everyone experiences tinnitus differently and your audiologist will ask you a lot of questions to figure this out. Some of these questions can include:
- How long has this been happening?
- Do you hear it all the time or just periodically?
- Which ear is affected? Is it both?
- How loud is the noise?
A thorough discussion of your history will take place before any tests do, and your exam will begin after this.
Testing for tinnitus
Your audiologist will take you through a series of tests including a pitch match test, a loudness match test and a visual analog scale. These tests will help your audiologist to figure out the frequency of the sound that you can hear, the level of sound you can hear and the perceived loudness of the ringing. Often, tinnitus is thought to be louder than it actually is, so it’s important to get this right.
Your audiologist will take into account your symptoms and possible cause of tinnitus when recommending a treatment. Hearing aids can provide you with some relief initially if you have some hearing loss. There are masking features in some hearing aids today that are specific to tinnitus, so you should make sure that you ask your audiologist about these.
There is a behavioral therapy called tinnitus retraining therapy that can be done alongside the use of a masking device and can help you to learn to ignore the noise and push it into the background of your mind. White noise machines can often provide the same relief, taking your attention away from the ringing and onto something else.
Tinnitus can be a sign of another medical condition and treating said condition can have an instant effect on your tinnitus. It’s common to experience tinnitus as a side effect of medication, too, which is why it’s important to bring a list of medications with you to your appointment with your audiologist. Once you recognize the symptoms of tinnitus, you can book yourself an appointment to get your hearing checked and discuss the issues that you are having. Don’t keep coping when you don’t have to.