Post By: Ellie Zuber
Ringing in the New Year with ringing in your ears?
Ringing in the ears—or tinnitus—is described as a perception of sound without a physical stimulus. Tinnitus is a common problem that many Americans face each year. In fact, the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) estimates that 50 million Americans report having tinnitus every year, with almost half rating it as burdensome or debilitating. People suffering from tinnitus will often times seek treatment when it begins to cause them stress, anxiety, or keeps them from participating in daily activities. However, tinnitus is not actually a health condition itself, but a symptom of an underlying problem. This means that there is no universal treatment or “cure” for tinnitus and each patient’s treatment may look different. For many people, the underlying cause of their tinnitus may actually be hearing loss. High frequency (or high pitch) hearing loss often times presents with tinnitus. The theory behind the correlation is that the brain realizes it’s missing out on high pitch sounds and manufactures its own high pitch sound to supplement the loss. For patients with both tinnitus and a high pitch hearing loss, treating the hearing loss (typically with hearing aids) often times reduces the intensity of the tinnitus.
Another common treatment for tinnitus is known as retraining therapy. This therapy technique does not attempt to cure the tinnitus but helps the patient to cope with the tinnitus through learned behavioral strategies to lessen the stress or anxiety that the tinnitus causes him or her. This treatment technique is often times used for patients whose tinnitus is associated with a traumatic event or prevents them from participating in their everyday life. If you suffer from tinnitus don’t let it prevent you from enjoying this holiday season. Talk to your audiologist and find out what treatment plan is right for you.