Your world is alive with sound. Laughter, unforgettable melodies, waves breaking on the shore — all these sounds enrich your life. At other times, all you want to hear is silence. So what happens when one stubborn sound won’t allow you to enjoy peace and quiet anymore?
Tinnitus can manifest as a ringing, buzzing, humming, or similar noise you hear even though there is no outside source for the sound. While you may have been told there is no cure, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to find relief and restore your peace of mind. You can learn to live with tinnitus by finding out how to control it, instead of letting it control you.
If you hear an annoying noise that never seems to go away, it can be distracting, put you on edge, and increase stress and anxiety. Because only you can hear it, you might feel like no one understands what you’re going through. But this phenomenon is very real. It’s called tinnitus and it’s a more common condition than you might think.
Though the exact cause of tinnitus — as in the specific mechanism that creates these phantom sounds in some people — remains unknown, contributing factors and triggers have been identified. Excessive exposure to loud noise is often a factor because of the damage done to your auditory system. Tinnitus may also result from jaw-joint dysfunction (e.g., teeth grinding, temporomandibular joint disorder) or chronic neck muscle strain.
Tinnitus is identifiable.
Not knowing the exact cause of your tinnitus doesn’t make your symptoms any less real.
Brain scans indicate increased metabolic activity in the region of the left auditory cortex in tinnitus patients, suggesting that tinnitus is not exclusively related to the ear.
Is your tinnitus a sign of an underlying illness?
For many patients, tinnitus is more than an annoying affliction — it may be a warning sign of an as-yet undiagnosed threat to your overall health. In some cases it may be the cause; in others the symptom. The following are just some of the serious conditions associated with tinnitus.
The combination of symptoms that are classified as Meniere’s disease include tinnitus. Those with this condition also experience bouts of dizziness and vertigo that can be debilitating, and hearing loss. To date the cause of Meniere’s disease has yet to be identified and there is no cure. Symptoms can be controlled in some by reducing salt intake, taking diuretics, and using anti-vertigo medications to manage attacks. Hearing aids can be used to treat any hearing loss.
Anxiety and depression.
For some tinnitus sufferers the constant humming becomes overwhelming, disturbing sleep and disrupting daily life. The constant noise can set off negative emotional and behavioral reactions that make you focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. For example, if tinnitus makes you feel stressed, you might lose interest in socializing. Acute anxiety, depression, chronic stress and similar disorders often result. These conditions may be eased by antidepressants and working with a therapist to find coping techniques. Hearing aids with tinnitus therapy features can also help by allowing you to concentrate on outside sounds. They can be used to provide relief even if you don’t have hearing loss.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).
TMD occurs when the jaw, jaw joint and muscles required for chewing, talking and moving the jaw do not function properly. Besides tinnitus symptoms often include toothaches and facial pain, headaches, dizziness and hearing problems. The cause may be as clear as an accident involving whiplash, grinding your teeth in your sleep or arthritis, or the reason may be more difficult to pinpoint. Treatments are available, including the following:
– Wearing a mouthpiece at night
– Dental correction
– Injection of medications into the affected areas
– Laser therapy
Taking control of tinnitus.
As you search for a solution, it’s important to remember that tinnitus is not an illness, but a symptom — similar to pain. The goal is to find relief from this symptom. Even if no specific cause is determined, tinnitus can be treated. There are many ways for you to cope with your condition, including by changing habits and attitudes so that tinnitus no longer controls your everyday life. The term tinnitus management covers various ways of adopting a new approach to tinnitus.
Cognitive-behavioral tinnitus training, for instance, is very promising. Your personal mindset and feelings play a decisive role in this method. Training sessions with varied content promote self-help. Training focuses on targeted information, an analysis of behavior, practical exercises, and positive experiences. Cognitive-behavioral tinnitus training focuses on the following aspects:
– Facts about tinnitus symptoms
– Why it’s important not to listen to tinnitus
– Role played by emotions and stress
– Learn relaxation methods
– Practice imaginary journeys to elicit positive emotions
– Transform negative thoughts and attitudes into a helpful I can beat tinnitus mindset
– Eliminate habits that encourage tinnitus such as withdrawing from friends, avoiding activities
– What to do if tinnitus comes to the forefront again
– Acoustic stimulation and training using hearing aids, tinnitus therapy feature, combined devices or other audio sources
Since tinnitus is normally a symptom of an underlying condition, be it sensorineural hearing loss or circulatory disorder, it can only improve if the fundamental problem is treated successfully.
Some tinnitus treatment options include the following:
– Reduce dosages of medications known to cause tinnitus (or eliminate them entirely, if possible)
– Have excessive earwax removed by a hearing care professional
– Sleep with a white noise generator in the room to counter the ringing or buzzing in your ears
– Take medications to alleviate stress and anxiety brought on by tinnitus
However, for millions of sufferers the condition causing tinnitus cannot be identified or is incurable itself. In these cases, treating the symptom directly or learning to live with the irritating sound may be the only tinnitus remedies available.
The following tips can help you find relief from tinnitus:
Relearn how to hear. The more varied sound impressions you hear, the less you focus on tinnitus. So make an effort to really listen to the world around you.
Recuperative sleep. If you’re active during the day, it’s easier to sleep at night. Many other factors also influence your sleep, so experiment to see which habits positively affect your nightly rest.
Keep moving. Spending time with loved ones and enjoying activities improves your outlook and decreases tinnitus’ hold on your life.
Avoid silence. Reducing time in silence makes it harder for tinnitus to take hold. Relax with enjoyable external sounds like audio books or soothing music.
Stay fit. Physical fitness is important. Even if your tinnitus seems louder when working out or playing sports, the relief from stress and release of soothing endorphins will alleviate your negative reactions to the noise.
Effective relaxation. Tinnitus can cause tension, so it’s important to learn and regularly use relaxation methods like meditation, Feldenkrais, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong.
Many tinnitus patients benefit from wearing hearing aids.
Hearing aids can make it easier to listen to external sounds instead of permanently concentrating on annoying internal noises. Learn more about what hearing aids can do to alleviate your tinnitus symptoms.
A tinnitus therapy signal can provide relief.
Besides amplifying the sounds around us, most of our hearing aids also include a tinnitus therapy feature. How does this work?
In very quiet hearing environments, regular hearing aids don’t have enough external sounds to amplify to distract you from your tinnitus. This is when the tinnitus therapy feature comes in. By emitting a customized therapy signal — a soothing sound like waves rolling into a beach — it distracts you from focusing on the ringing in your ears. Our hearing aids are equipped with different therapy signal types, including four nature-inspired ocean wave signals and five pre-programmed static sounds (e.g., white noise).
Use our customized solutions to distract you from tinnitus, so you can relax and focus on enjoying the outside world again.
Find your ideal solution for tinnitus.
Signia hearing aids offer many setting options for their tinnitus therapy feature. Your hearing care professional will help you choose the best one for your personal needs. Keep in mind that even if you don’t have hearing loss, our hearing aids can be adjusted to provide relief from tinnitus without amplification.
Here are some examples:
– Separate therapy signal generator.
– Two programmable modes: tinnitus therapy signals only or mixed mode.
– Four nature-inspired ocean wave therapy signals.
– Five pre-programmed static therapy signals: white noise, pink noise, speech noise, brown noise, and high-tone noise.
– Static therapy signals customized in up to 20 bands.
There are many ways to effectively overcome tinnitus today. Our entire line of hearing aids offer tinnitus therapy features. Learn more about our solutions for hearing loss and tinnitus.