Tinnitus is any sound that you hear in your head that is not audible externally or caused by an external source. People report many different types of sounds but tinnitus is frequently described as ear ringing, clicking, buzzing, crickets or roaring sounds.
97% of people have some degree of Tinnitus. Our hearing system tends to filter out sounds that are unimportant so most people are able to ‘tune out’ their tinnitus after a while. If you are anxious or concerned by your tinnitus, your brain may treat the tinnitus as an important sound making it difficult for you to ‘tune it out'.
Click the links below to find out more about tinnitus:
- Causes of tinnitus
- What can you do treat and manage your tinnitus?
- Is tinnitus permanent?
- How long will it take to treat my tinnitus?
- Is there anything I can do to stop tinnitus from getting worse?
- How to sleep with tinnitus?
- What to expect at a tinnitus assessment?
- Will hearing aids help with my tinnitus?
Tinnitus can have a significant impact on your quality of life by causing concentration difficulties, sleep disturbance, avoidance of quiet or loud noises and difficulty relaxing. Tinnitus is rarely linked to any serious problem and people usually learn to manage it quite successfully. Our Lions Hearing Clinic Audiologists specialise in helping clients with tinnitus and offer a range of therapeutic options.
Causes of tinnitus
There are many different causes of tinnitus. Tinnitus is linked to exposure to loud noise, hearing loss, ear or head injuries, some diseases of the ear, ear infections or emotional stress. It can also be a side effect of medication or a combination of all of these things although many people with tinnitus have never experienced any of these conditions. Each case is unique.
The most common cause is a hearing loss, even if this hearing loss very minimal. When you have a hearing loss, your brain is deprived of the external stimulation it requires. To compensate, your brain searches for sound internally, picking up on natural internal head noises and labelling them as significant. Your brain then interprets this sound as tinnitus.
Exposure to continued noise causes hearing loss and tinnitus. Loud sounds can damage hearing especially if you listen to them for hours at a time. Many people will experience temporary tinnitus after being exposed to loud noise. This usually goes away after a short time but can be a warning that you have been exposed to too much noise.
While stress does not directly cause tinnitus it can worsen its effects. A range of factors can cause stress and significant periods of stress or stressful events have been known to trigger tinnitus. Learning to manage stress is an important part of your tinnitus management. By learning to relax and take control you can help your body and brain manage your tinnitus.
What can you do to manage your tinnitus?
Every person who experiences tinnitus is unique and the best strategy to managing your tinnitus is dependent on your unique condition. Your tinnitus may be caused by a range of different factors and effect certain areas of your life more than others. For this reason a specialised management strategy and the combined use of various strategies are most effective in reducing the negative effects of tinnitus.
At the Lions Hearing Clinic our team of expert audiologists comprehensively investigate the causes of your tinnitus and the factors contributing to your tinnitus. More importantly, our audiologists examine the impact that tinnitus is having on your life and develop a holistic plan to manage your tinnitus. This comprehensive plan will incorporate a combination of different strategies to manage your tinnitus and the plan will be personally tailored for both your lifestyle and your needs.
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss and evidence has shown that hearing aids can greatly reduce tinnitus distress. When you have a hearing loss, your brain does not receive the stimulation it needs and looks for the sounds internally. The brain then picks up sounds that naturally occur within the head and labels them as tinnitus. When you have hearing aids your brain receives more stimulation and consequently doesn’t need to search for sounds internally. This has the effect of reducing the level of tinnitus.
Secondly when you have a hearing loss, there is additional strain on your brain when trying to listen and understand speech. This strain can create stress which significantly increases the effects of tinnitus. Hearing aids significantly improve your ability to hear, reducing the strain on your brain when trying to listen to sounds. This results in a reduction in your overall level of stress and a significant reduction in the level of tinnitus distress.
Many new hearing aid models include a tinnitus sound generator which can significantly reduce tinnitus distress. These tinnitus sound generators play external sounds like white noise and pink noise directly to hearing aids. The sounds created by the tinnitus sound generator compete with the sound of your tinnitus. This has the effect of ‘covering up’ the sound of your tinnitus. While your tinnitus is still there, you become less aware of it as you are ears hear competing noise.
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Neuromonic devices are specialty devices that can help retrain your brains response to tinnitus and significantly reduce your tinnitus distress. Using music therapy and other sounds that are similar to your tinnitus, these devices teach your brain to reduce its response to tinnitus which has the effect of making your tinnitus seem much softer.
Environmental sounds and background noises can help reduce your tinnitus distress by reducing the audibility of your tinnitus. Background sounds such as pink noise, white noise, the sounds of wave crashing and the sound of rain compete with the sound of your tinnitus making your tinnitus seem much softer. Like when you are in a busy restaurant and it can be hard to hear people’s voices, these extra noises will make it more difficult to hear your tinnitus. When selecting environmental sounds select calm, soothing soundscapes with relatively constant pitch.
Research has found that if you can change the way you perceive and relate to your tinnitus you can significantly reduce the distress caused by your tinnitus. When you hear tinnitus, the majority of people’s habitual and instinctive response is to get annoyed, irritated and distressed. However by getting upset you can actually make your tinnitus worse, as these negative emotions cause increase stress on your brain which in turn amplifies your tinnitus! At the Lions Hearing Clinic we will show you how to become aware of your brains instinctive response to tinnitus and how you can use this awareness to reduce your level of tinnitus distress. We will also show you how to understand your tinnitus, identify its triggers and how to retrain your brain’s response to tinnitus to reduce the impact of tinnitus in your life.
Is tinnitus permanent?
Tinnitus can be temporary or permanent. After exposure to loud noise for continued periods of time you will often experience temporary tinnitus. People with longer lasting tinnitus can use a range of tinnitus management strategies to reduce the impact of tinnitus on their life.
How long will it take to treat my tinnitus?
Each person’s tinnitus condition is unique, so it is impossible to say how long any management programme will take to show a reduction in tinnitus. However there is considerable evidence to show that tinnitus management programs can result in a drastic reduction in tinnitus distress. The sooner you start a tinnitus management program the sooner you can start reducing the impact of tinnitus on your life. To book an appointment to help reduce your tinnitus at the Lions Hearing Clinics, call 1800 054 667 or complete the form on our Contact Us Page.
Is there anything I can do to stop tinnitus from getting worse?
To prevent your tinnitus from getting worse you should always use hearing protection when you know you will be exposed to loud noise. As soon as you leave the loud environment, it is vital to remove the hearing protection as over use of hearing protection can lead to an increase in your perception of tinnitus.
Engaging in activities to reduce your overall level of stress can help reduce the impact of tinnitus. While stress does not directly cause tinnitus it can increase the impact of your tinnitus. By reducing the amount of stress in your life you can significantly reduce its impact.
How to sleep with tinnitus?
Environmental sounds and background noise such as pink noise, white noise, the sound of waves crashing and the sound of wind can assist those trying to sleep with tinnitus. These sounds help you sleep by covering up the sound of your tinnitus and are available in the tinnitus sound generator functions of most modern hearing aids. Consistent background noise of a relatively constant pitch created by fans and air conditioners can also help you sleep. When trying to sleep do not use ear plugs or create environments of complete silence, as the silence can actually increase your perception of your tinnitus and make it seem louder.
What to expect at a tinnitus assessment?
In a tinnitus hearing assessment your expert Lions Hearing Clinic audiologist will look in your ears and conduct an extended hearing check. This hearing check will test your ability to hear higher pitch sounds then a usual hearing check as this is relevant to identifying your tinnitus. You will also complete a questionnaire and answer detailed questions from your audiologist regarding the effect of tinnitus on your lifestyle. This allows your audiologist to thoroughly understand the impact of tinnitus on your life and identify the best management strategies for you.
During your tinnitus hearing assessment your audiologist will help you identify the exact pitch, frequency and volume of your tinnitus. They will do this by having you listen to different sounds of varied pitch, frequency and volume until you find a sound very similar to your tinnitus. By identifying the pitch, frequency and volume of tinnitus your audiologist can see if they can cover up the sound of your tinnitus with other sounds and background noises. If successful this can significantly reduce your tinnitus distress.
Counselling and the discussion of management strategies are an integral part of our tinnitus assessments. Our Lions Hearing Clinic audiologists are dedicated to helping you understand what triggers your tinnitus and how by changing your perception you can significantly reduce your tinnitus distress.
In a tinnitus assessment our qualified audiologists work with you to build a comprehensive plan to effectively manage your tinnitus. Personally tailored for you, this management plan brings together various aspects of tinnitus management including hearing devices, psychotherapy and other tools.
Will hearing aids help with my tinnitus?
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss. If your tinnitus is being caused by a hearing loss then hearing aids can significantly reduce the impact of your tinnitus. Hearing aids reduce your tinnitus by improving your brains ability to hear sounds and by reducing your level of stress when trying to listen to sounds. For more information on how hearing aids can help reduce your tinnitus, click here.
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