The word “cure” doesn’t really apply to tinnitus, since it isn’t actually an illness. Tinnitus is a symptom caused by an underlying problem. For instance, tinnitus resulting from exposure to loud noises is the result of damage done to the hair cells of the inner ear. In that case, tinnitus is a signal letting us know that damage has been done.
People suffering from tinnitus would most likely call that a distinction without a difference and, honestly, they’d be right. We mention it just to give you a realistic perspective on the treatment of tinnitus. If the underlying cause of the tinnitus can’t be treated, the tinnitus itself will be difficult to eliminate. For example, while tinnitus caused by permanent damage to the inner ear isn’t likely to go away, tinnitus caused by high blood pressure putting a strain on the blood vessels of the inner ear may very well go away when the high blood pressure is treated.
Should you find yourself with permanent tinnitus, all is not lost, the world of contemporary hearing technology has produced some excellent options for managing tinnitus.
Simply wearing a hearing aid may amplify the ambient sound around you to appoint where your tinnitus fades into the background. Also, many contemporary hearing aids are equipped with sound-masking technology that uses opposing frequencies to distract the wearer from that annoying tinnitus sound.
There are also some behavioral therapy options for treating tinnitus, but you can’t know exactly what path to take without a thorough hearing evaluation. Only a certified hearing professional, can determine the source of your tinnitus and create a personalized treatment plan for you.
At Bow River Hearing, we treat two types of tinnitus:
- Discordant Dysfunction: This type of tinnitus results from damage to the cochlea, the organ of the inner ear responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. The damage may be done by excessive noise, certain drugs or viral infections and results in the patient hearing a persistent sound that isn’t really there, due to faulty information reaching the brain.
- Decreased Sound Tolerance (DST): While the term “tinnitus” is most often associated with the sort of phantom sounds that accompany discordant dysfunction, we also include conditions involving sounds that are all too real for certain people. DST can take two forms:
- Hyperacusis: This is a condition in which an individual finds everyday sounds to be especially intense (e.g., running water or a kitchen appliance). Hyperacusis is treatable with hearing aids and/or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
- Misophonia: For those suffering from this disorder, certain sounds actually result in a highly agitated reaction that can range from simple irritability to outright panic. It is treatable with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
What Do Hearing Aids Do For Tinnitus?
Essentially, hearing aids can return a lot of the ambient sound hearing loss takes away. Such environmental sound can make tinnitus fade into the background. Many contemporary hearing aids also include sound-masking technology that neutralizes the effect of tinnitus by covering it.
What Is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)?
The goal of TRT is to make the tinnitus sound so familiar that it becomes largely unnoticeable. It is a careful process, involving analysis of the patient’s medical history and lifestyle, noise-generating technology that makes the tinnitus just one more element of a broad spectrum of sound, and stress management techniques focused on making the tinnitus nothing to get anxious about. Stress management is sometimes used on its own, as stress is believed to be a cause and exacerbator of tinnitus.