Tinnitus is the perception of ringing/buzzing/chirping in either one or both of your ears when there is no outside sound present. Tinnitus can be constant or intermittent and can have different affects on different people. For some people, tinnitus can affect their lives substantially while for others, it may not affect them at all. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, but not always.
There are two types of tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is when only you can hear the tinnitus. Objective tinnitus is when others can hear the tinnitus. Objective tinnitus is not as common as subjective tinnitus.
The exact cause of tinnitus isn’t known, although there are known causes that can trigger or enhance it. These include: noise exposure, earwax, head trauma, certain disorders, tumors, cardiovascular disorders, and ototoxicity.
Treatment / Management
As of right now, there is no cure for tinnitus. However there are different devices available to help alleviate the annoyance of tinnitus. Some patients notice benefit when they use hearing aids and some gain relief when they use a device called a tinnitus masker. A new device has been made available that is a tinnitus retraining therapy called Neuromonics.
Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment is a FDA-cleared, patented, and clinically-tested treatment that has been shown to help reduce long-term tinnitus disturbances. Instead of just masking the tinnitus while the patient wears the device, it re-trains the brain to filter out the tinnitus sound, allowing for decreased tinnitus disturbance for the patient.
The first step in fitting a patient with a Neuromonic device is to do an assessment of their hearing and tinnitus profile. Then the audiologist orders the device that is customized to the patient’s hearing and tinnitus profile. The patient wears the device, which looks like an MP3 player with earbuds, for 2 or more hours a day for about 6-8 months. The device delivers a spectrally-modified neural stimulus embedded to occur at specific intervals in music. This treatment uses the fact that the brain is able to be retrained on what auditory sounds it focuses on to allow for a reduced tinnitus disturbance. The patient returns for periodic appointments to make adjustments and ensure that they are succeeding with the device. Many people notice improvements right away. Once the treatment is completed, periodic use of the device is recommended to ensure that the tinnitus relief continues.