Tinnitus Evaluation and Treatment

For patients suffering with tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”) we offer several diagnostic tests and self-assessment surveys to determine the cause of the tinnitus and its psychological impact. Tests are performed to determine if the cause of the tinnitus is related to middle ear or inner ear problems as well as possible auditory nerve abnormalities. The tone or pitch of the tinnitus as well as its volume is also determined to help assess the best management option. These options may include dietary changes, medication review, masking devices, hearing aids, or Tinnitus Retraining therapy (TRT).

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual. It has also been described as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing in the ear.

These sounds may come and go; however, most sufferers experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The effects range from slight annoyance to severe disruption of everyday life. The American Tinnitus Association estimates that more than 60 million Americans suffer from tinnitus.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is most often a symptom of an underlying health condition, like a head or neck injury, ear infections, impacted earwax, or even side effects from certain medications or exposure to excessive noise. Tinnitus is also a common side effect of hearing loss, with measurable hearing loss reported in over 80% of tinnitus sufferers.

We can’t always tell whether your temporary damage will become permanent, but tinnitus is usually representative of an inner-ear problem. Tinnitus research is ongoing, and the mechanisms that cause tinnitus in the brain and inner ear are being more closely studied. Some possible causes are:

Loud noises can be a cause of tinnitus

Exposure to loud noise

Some medications can be a cause of tinnitus

Certain medications

Diet can be a cause of tinnitus

Diet

Head Trauma can be a cause of tinnitus

Head trauma

Stress can be a cause of tinnitus

Stress

Blockage can be a cause of tinnitus

Eardrum blockage

Jaw joint disorders can be a cause of tinnitus

Jaw joint disorders

Hearing Loss can be a cause of tinnitus

Hearing loss

In rare cases, tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel disorder, resulting in pulsatile tinnitus. This type of tinnitus may be caused by a head or neck tumor, a buildup of cholesterol in the circulatory system, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, or malformation of the capillaries surrounding the ear. The result is a tinnitus that sends out pulsing signals in conjunction with the flow of your heartbeat.

Is There a Cure?

There is currently no cure for tinnitus. We will work with you to identify potential causes for your specific symptoms, and there may be a way to reduce the impact of tinnitus on your daily life. In some instances, changes to your diet or medications may help with your symptoms. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, can also help alleviate the constant ringing in your ears.

Tinnitus Evaluation and Treatment

Due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, Cityview Audiology audiologists are experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis. After completing a hearing test, your audiologist may refer you to an otolaryngologist for further examination.

For patients suffering with tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”) we offer several diagnostic tests and self-assessment surveys to determine the cause of the tinnitus and its psychological impact. Tests are performed to determine if the cause of the tinnitus is related to middle ear or inner ear problems as well as possible auditory nerve abnormalities. The tone or pitch of the tinnitus as well as its volume is also determined to help assess the best management option. These options may include dietary changes, medication review, masking devices, hearing aids, or Tinnitus Retraining therapy (TRT).

The No. 1 treatment for tinnitus for those who also experience hearing loss is the use of a personal hearing system, which can improve your hearing and often reduce or eliminate your perception of tinnitus. There are a number of treatment options, including:

 

AGX Hearing Technology

Hearing Technology: In many cases, the distressing combination of tinnitus and hearing loss can be relieved with tinnitus technology. This revolutionary combination of a noise-masking device with an amplified hearing system can restore ambient sounds and help fill Sound Voids™ to eliminate the effects of tinnitus. This is a relatively new therapy, though our patients so far are reporting excellent results.

Masking

Masking: An electronic device called a masker may be worn to distract from the ringing sensation. Maskers fit in the ear similarly to hearing aids and produce low-level sounds. In addition, bedside sound generators and other devices can also help remove the perception of ringing.

Tinnitus retraining therapy

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: A therapeutic process in which we specialize, and has given relief to many of our patients. Our process is a combination of sound therapy and counseling, which alters the brain’s neural signals and weakens the perception of tinnitus, allowing you to live your daily life far more peacefully.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A type of counseling that helps to change the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus by altering negative thought patterns and helping to relieve stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there medications for tinnitus?

Almost all of the “surefire” remedies for tinnitus found on the internet are based on junk science, case studies, or no real evidence at all. But there are some things you can try that might help lessen symptoms, including: limiting exposure to loud noises, lowering your blood pressure, ingesting less salt, and limiting exposure to alcohol.

Can tinnitus be cured?

Current research by neurologists suggests that altering certain areas of the brain that respond to sound — or a lack thereof — may provide relief. Experiments to regrow broken hair cells have also been performed. Regrowth of hair cells means that hearing is restored, which prevents the brain from attempting to fill the void left by a lack of hair cells, ultimately ending tinnitus. Both theories are likely years away from clinical trials, which means a greater period of time until any possible cure hits the market. Curing tinnitus may be possible, but likely not in the near future.

Can tinnitus be directly measured?

Rarely. There is a form of tinnitus referred to as “objective tinnitus” that your doctor can hear. This is typically the result of a blood vessel problem, an inner-ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.

Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?

No. Tinnitus is a symptom of any number of conditions, including hearing loss.

Why is tinnitus worse at night?

In our daily lives, sounds around us typically mask tinnitus to some degree. At night, when things are quiet, there’s less noise and fewer mental distractions. If your tinnitus is stress related, it’s also possible that the cumulative stress of your day has made your symptoms worse.