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Chances are you’ve heard of tinnitus either because someone you know has experienced it, you have experienced it, or you’ve seen one of the many headlines now splashed across the media about it.
Approximately 15% of the America population or almost 50 million people are believed to have this condition making it one of the most common health conditions in the United States. While there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are ways to manage it. Effective management of this condition begins with understanding the facts about tinnitus.
Fast facts about tinnitus
- Tinnitus is also referred to as a ringing or buzzing in the ears, but it can even sound like music, a whooshing or any other number of sounds and is only audible to the person affected.
- Tinnitus can be caused by such things as damage to the hair cells of the inner ear (hearing loss), head trauma, fluid in the ear, ear infections, impacted ear wax, certain medications and even underlying medical conditions.
- Tinnitus, especially when left untreated, has been linked to increased anxiety, reduced social interaction, irritability, and even depression.
- If you believe you are experiencing tinnitus, the best first step is to see your physician to identify any potential health issues that may be causing the tinnitus. It’s not unusual for ringing in the ears to be a red flag for more serious underlying health conditions.
- Tinnitus is complicated, involving hearing, the brain and even the body. For this reason, treatment should involve a team of experts with various specialties from hearing health care practitioners to psychologists and counselors.
- Tinnitus treatment should be as unique as the individual and their tinnitus. A personalized plan is a must for the most effective management of the condition.
- There are several treatment options to help manage tinnitus, including:
- Hearing aids with a tinnitus masker feature to cancel out the ringing or buzzing sound of tinnitus.
- Sound Therapy using noise to cancel out the perceived sound of the tinnitus, generally in conjunction with counseling.
- Mindfulness meditation combined with other therapies may offer promise according to several studies, including this one and this one on Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps tinnitus patients identify a “negative thought about a specific situation and then change this negative thought to a more realistic and positive thought.”
- Relaxation Therapy helps tinnitus patients reduce stress through strategies such as deep breathing and guided relaxation exercises.
- Overall health is believed to help promote well-being and reduce the effects of tinnitus. It may even help improve underlying health conditions that contribute to tinnitus.
- Medication in some severe cases may help people manage tinnitus.
- Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis, and even supplements have shown promise in helping to manage tinnitus.
Tinnitus affects each person differently and on many different levels. It’s crucial to seek treatment early and find management strategies that work for you to address the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the condition. If you believe you have tinnitus, contact our office now to start managing it.