Whispers in the Silence: Tinnitus Awareness
A Closer Look at Tinnitus
Greetings, healthcare advocates! As Tinnitus Awareness Week (5th – 11th Feb) approaches, let’s embark on a journey into the world of tinnitus, a condition that silently weaves its way into the lives of millions. Today Manning Audiology wants to shine a spotlight on this often-overlooked concern, explore how it resonates in the lives of our patients and effective treatments or solutions that are more readily available.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus (ti-NIGHT-us or TINN-a-tus), often labelled as “ringing in the ears” can manifest as whistling, buzzing, hissing, roaring, swooshing, clicking, and many other sounds. Beyond the auditory realm, it significantly disrupts a person’s quality of life, often accompanying underlying issues like age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, or certain medications.
According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is very common and approximately one in five people experience tinnitus at some point in their lives.
More than 90% of those experiencing Tinnitus also have hearing loss. Hence, a hearing evaluation becomes paramount for these individuals.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Visualize your auditory system as a flawless rock concert. Now, introduce a rogue guitarist playing out of tune that’s tinnitus. Whether arising from loud noises, the natural aging process, earwax blockage, or medication side effects, it’s the brain crafting its own unique soundtrack.
Can Tinnitus Cause Hearing Loss?
Tinnitus and hearing loss often share a nuanced dance. While tinnitus doesn’t directly induce hearing loss, they frequently appear together on the stage. Addressing both is pivotal, considering tinnitus ranks as the second most common sign of hearing loss (after age) and highlights those changes in the auditory system and/or the cochlea of the inner ear, the auditory nerve, and parts of the brain that process sound.
However, around 10% of people who suffer from tinnitus don’t have any form of hearing loss, even if the condition is severe.
What are the Triggers for Tinnitus?
A South Korean study brings caffeine into the spotlight, revealing a dose dependent relationship. Noise exposure, earwax accumulation, medication side effects, and hypertension contribute, urging us to prioritize preventive measures. Stress and anxiety amplify symptoms, while dietary factors, including high-fat intake, may play a role. Understanding these triggers and adopting lifestyle changes are key to positively impacting tinnitus management.
Does Tinnitus Remain the Same? Can Tinnitus get Worse?
Tinnitus is more prevalent as individuals age due to natural changes in the auditory system. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, can lead to increased susceptibility to tinnitus. Factors such as cumulative noise exposure over the years and changes in blood flow to the ear also contribute to the higher incidence of tinnitus in older populations.
Tinnitus can be associated with dizziness. The sensation of ringing or buzzing in the ears sometimes coincides with a feeling of imbalance or dizziness. This connection between tinnitus and dizziness is often linked to the inner ear, as it plays a role in hearing but also contributes significantly to our sense of equilibrium.
In cases where tinnitus is a result of issues like Meniere’s disease, a condition affecting the inner ear, dizziness can be a common companion. The inner ear’s role in maintaining balance means that disruptions or abnormalities in this area can lead to a feeling of unsteadiness or dizziness. If a patient is dealing with both tinnitus and dizziness, further audiological evaluations are very important. At Manning Audiology, we ensure that evaluations.
Tinnitus Management: No Magic Wand, Just Effective Tools
While a universal cure remains elusive, effective tools exist. Hence, we use the word “management”. Tinnitus management involves identifying underlying health issues. From earwax removal, treating an ear infection, changing medications to the use of hearing aids, our tailored approach at Manning Audiology seeks to reduce the burden of this persistent symphony.
Can Tinnitus Be Cured?
There is no scientific cure however at Manning Audiology, our approach involves a meticulous evaluation, incorporating subjective and objective measures to craft a personalized journey towards relief.
A comprehensive tinnitus assessment peels back the layers of the auditory sound, utilizing tools like the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI). This dual-purpose instrument evaluates tinnitus severity and guides treatment progress. The audiological evaluation delves into key elements—perceived pitch, loudness, and masking which reveal the intricacies of the patient’s tinnitus and assisting in the management process.
Considering amplification, aligning attributes within the instrument’s frequency bandwidth, particularly through pitch and loudness matching, enhances hearing aid benefits.
Do Hearing Aids Help with Tinnitus?
The era of digital hearing aids has significantly assisted individuals with tinnitus. Studies showcase their efficacy, easing symptoms for around 60% of patients. In a US survey of hearing care professionals, they reported that about 60% of their patients with tinnitus had their symptoms eased through hearing aids, and roughly 22% of their patients had experienced significant relief.
By amplifying external sounds, providing sound therapy, and enhancing overall quality of life, hearing aids play a crucial role in managing the symphony. It is very important to have an individualised rehabilitation program to ensure patients are fitted with the most appropriate hearing solutions. In Australia there are over 8 major hearing aids brands and Manning Audiology being an independent hearing healthcare provider patients have access to all these manufacturer and technology all under one roof.
What are Tinnitus Apps? Are they Helpful?
Tinnitus apps offer tailored components – counselling, amplification, fractal tones, and relaxation exercises. The Audiologist can guide patients to the app best suited to their needs, providing constructive coping mechanisms.
So, there you have it – a glimpse into the world of tinnitus, where whispers become roars, and silence is never truly silent. While a complete cure remains elusive, understanding the nuances of this auditory enigma empowers us to find better outcomes for our patients. Whether it’s through treatments, holistic approaches, or
embracing the symphonies of sound as part of our unique soundtrack, there’s always hope for a melodious tomorrow. Stay tuned for more insights from Manning Audiology.
If you or your patients are experiencing Tinnitus, please feel free to give Manning Audiology a call. We will be happy to consult and determine the next steps.
Book online or call your local clinic today!
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