Tinnitus is the perception or sensation of sound when no external sound is present. Tinnitus can occur in either one or both ears or may be localized “in the head”. It may be described as ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, crickets, clicking, fluttering or any number of other sounds alone or in combination. It can be intermittent, continuous or pulsatile and can fluctuate in character and intensity. Tinnitus may or may not be associated with a hearing impairment. It is important to remember that tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease. It is recommended to avoid silence. Tinnitus is generally worse in quiet.
Many people with bothersome tinnitus spend a lot of time and energy searching for a way to quiet or eliminate the tinnitus, which is a perfectly normal and reasonable reaction. Unfortunately, there currently is no therapy that can safely and consistently reduce the loudness of tinnitus. Tinnitus cannot be “cured” but it can be managed. When we say “manage tinnitus” we really mean “manage reactions to tinnitus”. Because we cannot change tinnitus itself, tinnitus management should be interpreted to mean making lifestyle adjustments to reduce any negative reactions to tinnitus. Reactions pertain to any negative effects of tinnitus on quality of life, such as sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties, or any negative emotions that are associated with tinnitus. Managing reactions to tinnitus can make the tinnitus less of a problem.
Here at ENT/The Hearing Center, we use a multi-faceted management approach that is individualized to each patient. The use of sound therapy and counseling has been shown to be the two most important components of any management protocol. If you have hearing loss, environmental sounds alone may not be adequate to conceal the tinnitus. Not only can hearing aids enhance your listening and communication abilities, but they may also provide relief from your tinnitus. If hearing aids alone do not provide the desired relief, other tools that may be used in a tinnitus management protocol include but are not limited to counseling (i.e. Progressive Tinnitus Management and/or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), stress management, healthy diet/exercise, improve sleep hygiene, and sound therapy.