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Tinnitus and Tinnitus Solutions

What is Tinnitus?

Have you ever heard sounds in your head – but there was no external stimulus that produced it? This experience is known as tinnitus, the experience of phantom sounds without an external stimulus.

Tinnitus is more commonly known as a “ringing of the ears.” The sounds may vary from just a ringing, as it sounds different depending on the person. Tinnitus may also appear as a buzzing, whistling, popping, cracking, or in some rare cases, music.

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) estimates that millions of Americans “experience tinnitus, often to a debilitating degree, making it one of the most common health conditions in the country.” Approximately 15% of Americans – over 50 million people – experience tinnitus, whether it is temporary or chronic.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound.

Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes: abnormally loud sounds in the ear canal for even the briefest period (but usually with some duration), ear infections, foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain, or wax build-up. Withdrawal from a benzodiazepine addiction may cause tinnitus as well. In-ear headphones, whose sound enters directly into the ear canal without any opportunity to be deflected or absorbed elsewhere, are a common cause of tinnitus when volume is set beyond moderate levels.

Tinnitus can also be caused by natural hearing impairment (as is often seen in aging), as a side effect of some medications, and as a side effect of genetic (congenital) hearing loss. However, the most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss.

As tinnitus is usually a subjective phenomenon, it is difficult to measure using objective tests, such as by comparison with noise of known frequency and intensity, as in an audiometric test. The condition is often rated clinically on a simple scale from “slight” to “catastrophic” according to the practical difficulties it imposes, such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.

Tinnitus is common; about 20% of people between 55 and 65 years old report symptoms on a general health questionnaire, and 11.8% on more detailed tinnitus-specific questionnaires.

Effects of Tinnitus

Tinnitus has been related to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. It may also lead to memory problems, the ability to concentrate, and fatigue. In more severe cases, tinnitus has been known to affect a person’s emotional well-being, interfering with social interaction and employment.

Types and Causes of Tinnitus

There are two main types of tinnitus: subjective and objective.

While it is frustrating, tinnitus is not an isolated condition in and of itself. The appearance of tinnitus often points to other underlying health conditions. Identifying and treating tinnitus may lead to a reduction or elimination of the symptoms. The ATA notes, “While tinnitus is most often triggered by hearing loss, there are roughly 200 different health disorders that can generate tinnitus as a symptom.”

Objective Tinnitus

Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, is quite rare, making up less than 1% of cases. With objective tinnitus, both the person who experiences tinnitus, and a person sitting in close proximity, will hear the tinnitus sounds. Objective tinnitus has been linked to medical issues of the cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure. Pulsatile tinnitus, in which the sounds are the same rhythm as the beating of the heart, is one form of objective tinnitus.

Subjective Tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus makes up over 99% of tinnitus cases. In this form, tinnitus is only heard by the person who experiences tinnitus. It may be caused by certain kinds of hearing loss, injury to the head, tumors in the ear area, certain classes of ototoxic (poisonous to the ear) medications, to name a few.

To schedule a no-obligation hearing test and consultation, call our friendly staff at: (520) 494-2242 or email us at info@betterhearing4u.com

Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Tinnitus appears in 90% of hearing loss cases, and while tinnitus does not cause hearing loss (and vice versa), they are linked. As such, many hearing aid manufacturers have included tinnitus therapy as an option in the design of their hearing aids.

Tinnitus Solutions

Tinnitus solutions in hearing aids often appear in the form of sound masking. Sound masking helps to “mask” the sounds of tinnitus by playing a synthetic sound or a nature sound (waves, rainstorms, etc.) to divert the brain away from the frustrating sounds of tinnitus. At Hearing Centers of Arizona, we offer several tinnitus solutions in hearing aids by the manufacturers below.

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Siemens/Signia

Siemens and Signia, co-branded hearing aids, offer tinnitus therapy in their brand new Primax hearing aid, as well as older Siemens hearing aids. Primax offers nine channels of tinnitus sound therapy: five static noises and four different ocean wave options. With older Siemens hearing aids (Ace, Pure, Carat, Aquaris, Motion, etc.), BestSound Technology offers eight tinnitus sound therapy signals: four synthetic and four ocean wave sounds.

phonak hearing aids arizona

Phonak

Phonak offers the Tinnitus Balance Portfolio to address the frustrations of tinnitus. This tinnitus management plan is based on each wearer’s unique needs, and consists of three elements: Tinnitus Balance hearing aids, a broadband noise generator, and a sound therapy program through an iPhone/Android compatible app.

resound hearing aids arizona

ReSound

ReSound offers Relief, a tinnitus management solution. Through an app downloadable on a smart phone or tablet, Relief gives wearers options to play soundscapes and perform audio exercises to divert attention from tinnitus sounds. Relief offers tinnitus relief for the LiNX2 (Made for iPhone) and ENZO2 (super-powered for higher degrees of hearing loss) hearing aids. Tinnitus relief sounds include ocean/beach, cityscapes, and nature sounds. ReSound’s Relief also has a sleep timer option to help tinnitus sufferers fall asleep easily.

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Oticon

Oticon offers Tinnitus SoundSupport on the new OPN as well as three of their essential models, Alta2, Nera 2, and Ria2. Tinnitus SoundSupport is accessed through an Oticon app, which allows wearers to customize their sound masking therapy options with a library of sound.

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Tinnitus and Tinnitus Solutions September 14, 2016

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