Q: What does the word tinnitus mean?
A: It is of Latin origin: Tinnitus means to jingle or ring like a bell.
Q: What is tinnitus?
A: The perception of sound (ringing, whistling, hissing, clicking) in the ears or head when no external physical sound is present. The perceived sound is internal and cannot be heard by others. It is generated in the ear, hearing system or brain. It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 people experience tinnitus to some degree.
Q: Is tinnitus a common problem?
A: The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) estimates that roughly 50 million people experience mild to severe tinnitus. Of that group, approximately 12 million people will have it severe enough to seek medical attention.
Q: What causes tinnitus?
Hazardous noise exposure
High frequency hearing loss due to aging
Vascular and Arterial problems
Jaw muscle malfuntions
Excessive wax build-up in ear canal
Sinus and/or ear infection
Head injury or whiplash
Q: What problems can tinnitus cause?
A: Luckily, for most people, it is just a nuisance that is easily ignored. However, for up to 10 million tinnitus sufferers, it cannot be ignored, and is severe enough to seek professional help; for up to 2 million sufferers, it is debilitating. In those cases, the tinnitus may begin a cycle of sleepless nights leading to depression, which, in turn, makes the tinnitus seem even louder.
Q: Can tinnitus be cured?
A: Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus. By cure, we mean a complete silence the tinnitus. There are exceptions: If tinnitus is caused by earwax, TMJ, or other curable condition, it might go away following successful medical intervention. However there are successful treatment programs available which will provide significant tinnitus relief.
Q: Why is my tinnitus more noticeable at night?
A: The distraction of daily activities and surrounding sounds will mask your tinnitus or divert your attention away from it. Often, in a quiet environment, tinnitus will seem more intense. The best advice is to avoid silence. A noise pillow, fountain or bedside noise machine may be helpful.
Q: Do's and Don'ts that may lessen the intensity of tinnitus
Try to avoid focusing on your tinnitus
Get ample rest
Try to exercise daily
Decrease sodium intake
Have your blood pressure checked
Protect your hearing, avoid loud sounds
Q: What are some treatment options.
TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy)
Counseling without sound therapy
Q: What devices are used for sound therapy?
A: A device that looks much like a hearing aid called a noise generator is the most common treatment when there is no hearing loss accompanying the tinnitus(see tinnitus devices in Tinnitus Treatments section of this website). The instrument should be totally non-occluding so that it does not interfere with normal hearing, and should present a pleasant sound similar to that of a shower. Much of the time, this sound will reduce stress and decrease the loudness of the tinnitus. In cases where there is tinnitus and hearing loss, a combo device that delivers both soothing noise for the tinnitus, and amplification for communication needs may be employed.
Q: What other hearing-related complaints may accompany tinnitus?
Hearing loss. A decrease in hearing sensitivity with a combination amplifier and noise generator.
Hyperacusis. An abnormally strong reaction to an environmental sound with no differentiation from soft to medium to loud
Q: What is hyperacusis?
A: Hyperacusis is a rare hearing disorder whereby a person perceives normal environmental sounds to be abnormally, even unbearably, loud. It is often, but not always accompanied by tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Hyperacusis is very treatable with desensitization sound therapy.
Q: If you suspect that you might have tinnitus...
A: Be seen by an Audiologist specializing in tinnitus
Try to enrich your daily life with enjoyable sounds that will help you avoid focusing on your tinnitus