Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external noise is actually present. Many individuals with tinnitus describe it as a “ringing in the ear,” but in reality, those with tinnitus can experience many different sounds, including:
Tinnitus can be both an acute (temporary) or chronic health concern and can be classified into two types:
Subjective tinnitus: ?Noises that are perceivable only to the patient. According to the American Tinnitus Association, more than 99% of all reported tinnitus cases are subjective tinnitus.
Causes of subjective tinnitus include:
- Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Excessive earwax
- Head congestion
- Dirt or foreign objects, such as hair, in the ear canal
- Nasal congestion from a severe cold
- Ototoxic drugs, including: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, certain antibiotics, certain cancer medications, water pills and diuretics and quinine-based medications
Objective tinnitus?: Noises that are perceivable to other people, as well as the patient. According to the American Tinnitus Association, objective tinnitus is caused by internal functions in the body’s circulatory and somatic system.
Finding relief for tinnitus
Because there are so many different causes of tinnitus, finding relief can be difficult. Those suffering from tinnitus often find relief in tinnitus sound maskers. These devices provide natural or artificial noise in an attempt to mask or cover up the constant ringing. The noise is created by a generator, which can either be placed within the ear, as in a hearing aid, or externally, such as a fan. In most cases, the sound masker can be patterned or specifically tailored to reduce the symptoms of the individual’s tinnitus.
Common sound-masking devices include:
- Hearing aids
- Modified-sound/notched-music devices
- Standard white noise machines
- Sound and sleep apps
Sound-masking devices like white noise machines and smart apps can be useful when trying to relax if tinnitus sounds won’t reside at night. However, for all-day support, hearing aids with tinnitus-masking features provide far more benefits.
Before selecting which sound-masking device is right for you, consider the following factors:
- Sound sensitivity: What types of sounds do you hear and how frequently are they occurring?
- Tinnitus symptoms: How debilitating are your symptoms?
- Education and support: Are your devices equipped with programs of patient education, counseling and support teams?
If you aren’t sure what solution is right for you, contact Armand’s Hearing Center today to learn more about how we can help you find the relief you need!