Tinnitus Treatment and Relief
How Do We Treat Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is an unwanted sound often described as ringing, clicking, or chirping in the ears. It is your auditory nerve telling your brain that there is a sound, even though there is no actual sound. This phantom sound can cause the hearer a great deal of stress and even block out sounds they would prefer to hear.
There are many possible causes for the unwanted stimulus of tinnitus: prolonged exposure to loud noise, hearing loss, medications, diet, and even stress. Knowing the cause—or causes—of your tinnitus is an essential part of treating your tinnitus.
To start effectively treating tinnitus, let’s start by looking at how the brain is dealing with this annoying sound.
Your Brain And Tinnitus
Near the center of your brain is the limbic system, which controls stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and other related functions. Essentially, many of your basic emotional responses are triggered by the limbic system. So, when an unexpected stimulus pops up, the limbic system gets to work, making sure you are ready for whatever comes.
For instance, imagine that you are driving down the freeway and see a police officer on the side of the road with a radar gun. When you tense up and instinctively tap your brakes, that is your limbic system in action.
Unfortunately, tinnitus can trigger those feelings on a near-constant basis for those who have moderate-to-severe tinnitus. Living in this state of heightened stress and anxiety can take an emotional and physical toll on a person. Even worse, the more you notice your tinnitus, the worse it can become.
Consider this – there is a foreign ringing sound, and because it is foreign, you focus on it. Once you focus on the ringing, it sounds more prominent and therefore draws more of your attention. The increased attention only reinforces the sound and makes it more distracting.
Thus begins the self-reinforcing cycle of tinnitus and its annoyance, anxiety, stress, and even depression. Our tinnitus treatment plans focus on breaking this cycle so that you can live your life without being plagued by tinnitus.
Effective Tinnitus Treatments
At The Hearing Clinic, you can find a variety of tinnitus treatments. Which treatment is right for you will depend on the cause of your tinnitus, the severity, and hearing evaluation.
One of the most popular treatments for tinnitus is to use hearing aids to help mask the sound of tinnitus. Generally, white or pink noise is used to provide pleasant background noise.
Part of why having hearing aids mask the sound of your tinnitus is because when you have tinnitus, it is best if you are not in complete silence. When there is nothing else to distract you from your tinnitus, the phantom sound can become louder and more annoying.
Also, what surprised some people is the connection between hearing loss and tinnitus. While you do not need hearing loss to use hearing aids for your tinnitus, quite a few people who have tinnitus also have a degree of hearing loss. By using hearing aids, you can use them both as sound maskers and help amplify the sounds you want to hear.
TINNITUS RETRAINING THERAPY
While maskers work well, they do not address the limbic system or do anything to change the way one responds to tinnitus when it is present. For some cases of tinnitus, that is enough to correct the problem. However, for more severe cases of tinnitus, tinnitus retraining therapy may be needed.
Tinnitus retraining therapy utilizes sound to treat the limbic system. That way, your limbic system no longer responds to tinnitus as it used to, making tinnitus much easier to live with and restoring a sense of normalcy.
The general approach to this type of therapy is to play a relaxing sound such as ocean noise, baroque music, or anything you find pleasant and relaxing. Play the sound at a volume that does not quite cover up the tinnitus so that you are hearing both at the same time.
What happens is that the limbic system relaxes from the pleasant stimulus. Also, because you can hear the tinnitus while this is happening, the limbic system learns not to tense up just because tinnitus is present. This process can take a few weeks or several months, and for some people, it is an ongoing treatment they use as needed for years. But most people who have tried tinnitus retraining therapy in any of its various forms have found it to be very effective.
Originally, if you wanted a tinnitus retraining program, it was only available with a separate iPod-like device. This device was used to play sounds that were shaped to relax the limbic system without covering tinnitus. In recent years, when there are devices involved, they have become smaller and much more convenient.
For instance, Widex hearing aids can come with Widex Zen Therapy, which combines sound amplification, fractal tones, relaxation, and counseling. There is also an associated app to help you through your tinnitus retraining therapy.
This particular program is just one tinnitus retraining option. Be sure to discuss with our audiologist if you would like to learn about other options.
As odd as it sounds, sometimes the source of a person’s tinnitus is due to an excess buildup of earwax. As the earwax blocks out other sounds, your brain can end up recognizing the irritating sound of your tinnitus more.
To safely have your earwax buildup addressed, you can always visit one of our hearing clinics and have your earwax removed by our audiologist.
Receive Tinnitus Treatment At The Hearing Clinic
Finding the right help to treat and manage your tinnitus doesn’t have to be hard when you work with The Hearing Clinic. Our audiologist has the knowledge and experience to help you determine what tinnitus solutions will work best for you and your lifestyle.
If you would like real help managing and treating your tinnitus contact The Hearing Clinic. With multiple hearing clinics available around the Denver metro and mountain west area, you can find the treatment and understanding you need to finally address your tinnitus.