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This Ringing is Driving Me Crazy!

Posted by Hearing Healthcare Center, Inc. on May 7, 2013 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Clients come into my office and tell me about their tinnitus. The ringing in their ears that sounds like a summer night, a seashell, wind, microphone static, a radio off station, or any other number of descriptive terms. Some hear loud sounds. Some hear soft sounds. Sometimes the sounds change in pitch or volume. Sometimes the sounds are constant. Sometimes they stop and start. You are probably getting the idea that tinnitus doesn’t fit into a nice little ribbon wrapped box.


The next thing they tell me about their tinnitus is that nothing they have tried has ever worked. They have talked to doctors for years and have been told nothing can be done. So, they ask, “What now?”


Tinnitus can NOT be cured. In the over 40 years it has been studied, there have been several treatments. My least favorite is surgery! Test procedures are still being developed to find the origin of the tinnitus. Surgery? In the past, surgeons have opted to sever the audiotory nerve in an effort to silence the ringing. Severing the auditory nerve will silence the ear. But if the tinnitus is central in origin (or located within the brain) the tinnitus will continue. How strange to be deaf yet hear a summer night in all seasons!


Tinnitus is generally regarded as insignificant to the medical community. It is a non-billable service for insurance purposes, and it is not life-threatening. It is therefore relegated out of the “treatable” realm. However, it can be life altering. There are several types of tinnitus management. Some use ear level devices that resemble hearing aids. These devices typically generate a comforting sound that distracts the listener from the ringing. If a person also suffers from hearing loss, there are combination devices that act as hearing aids and sound generators. These treatments decrease the annoyance of the tinnitus almost immediately and reach full success in two to eight months in most cases. There are some reports of relapse into the tinnitus, but the devices can be worn again at any time. As they are programmed with each individual’s hearing test information inside, there is no chance of the devices damaging the users hearing from extended use.


Tinnitus Retraining Therapies employ relaxation techniques, sound therapy, exercise regimes, diet modification, biofeedback, and counseling to help the tinnitus sufferer reassign the tinnitus to a less prominent part of the brain. Due to the additive relationship between stress and tinnitus, this is a very good avenue for those tinnitus sufferers with normal hearing and stressful jobs and/or lifestyles. This treatment may take up to two years to be fully successful, but most participants do not report any relapse.


Tinnitus management is not listed as a provided service in many offices. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. You will have to look. You will have to ask. Just don’t give up!