Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, roaring, hissing, whistling, whooshing or buzzing sound with no external sound source. Symptoms can affect one ear or both, and can range from a mild nuisance to debilitating. Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus, unless the underlying condition can be identified and treated.
What’s the First Step?
The first step to getting help with your tinnitus is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. Audiologists are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and are experts in conditions affecting the hearing and balance system.
Your audiologist will first discuss with you your medical and family history. Factors commonly associated with tinnitus include blood pressure, kidney function, medications, diet, allergies, stress and noise exposure.
Tinnitus is often associated with other conditions of the ears, especially hearing loss. It is estimated that approximately 90% of people with tinnitus also have some degree of hearing loss. Other associated ear disorders include impacted earwax, ear infections, Meniere’s disease, and middle ear tumors.
How Is Tinnitus Measured?
Since tinnitus is the perception of sound, it is impossible to measure it objectively. Instead, your audiologist will ask you a series of questions about the nature and severity of your symptoms, such as:
- Which ear is affected? Right, left or both?
- Is the ringing constant or intermittent?
- Do you notice your tinnitus more during certain times of day or during specific activities?
- Can you describe the sounds you’re hearing?
- Does the sound have a certain pitch to it? High or low?
- How loud does the sound seem? Soft or loud?
- Does the sound change or fluctuate?
- Does tinnitus affect your quality of life? Your sleep, work or concentration?
- How bothersome is your tinnitus? Mild, moderate or severe?
How Is Tinnitus Treated?
As stated above, there is no cure for tinnitus; however, there are many management options available. The best way to find relief is to identify and treat the underlying cause. This is not always possible, so other methods are often necessary.
- Tinnitus maskers. These devices look like hearing aids, but their purpose is to play sounds that mask, or cover up, the tinnitus sounds, distracting you from your bothersome symptoms.
- Other assistive devices. If you don’t want or need to wear a masker on your ears, you can achieve the same effect by playing music, using a sound machine or turning on a fan.
- Self-help groups. Joining a support group is a great option for those who feel isolated because of their tinnitus. It’s always helpful to talk to others who share your experiences, and your audiologist can help get you connected.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Hearing Center of Lake Charles today.