Ringing in the ears that can be a symptom of several conditions of the ear. These conditions can include can include simple temporary issues like infections and ear wax, or may be related to inner ear or nerve damage that is permanent. Tens of millions of Americans experience tinnitus, most of whom are only minimally bothered. However about 1 in 4 patients are bothered enough by that it can impact social interactions, sleep, and cause mood disturbance. Tinnitus can be a strong trigger for depression and anxiety, and leads to reduced quality of life.
Tinnitus is a noise only experienced by the patient – we have no definitive test for most forms of ringing. The perceived noise is generated in deep within the brain’s auditory centers. Typically tinnitus goes hand-in-hand with sensory hearing loss, but not always!
Our principles of tinnitus treatment include first improving any hearing loss, evaluating for concurrent musculoskeletal and psychological conditions, and finally considering Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). If it is severe enough you may be recommended to get a medical evaluation by one of our specialized physicians (Otolaryngologists) as well. Some tinnitus may respond well to medications or even injections of certain medications within the ear.
TRT is a process that uses hearing devices to transmit a controlled and modulated noise back to the auditory system in order to promote long-term suppression within the brain’s auditory centers. This uses principles of neural plasticity in the neural pathways. The character of the modulated sound is programmed in part by the patient, and is then transformed by complex mathematical algorithms based on decades of hearing research.
We do first and foremost consider tinnitus a medical problem, not “due to aging” or a “simple” psychological problem. When you call for a tinnitus evaluation you will be scheduled to see an ear physician expeditiously in addition to a formal audiogram. We have resources available to discuss tinnitus retraining therapy and even cognitive therapy if needed.
Click here to Download The THI, a validated questionnaire to measure and track your tinnitus progress.