Sudden and persistent ringing-in-the-ears could bring on anxiety, “Am I going crazy?” as well as a sense of isolation, “Am I the only one hearing this?” but, the reality is 10 to 15 percent of adults suffer from “ringing-in-the-ears,” or tinnitus.Resources like hearings aids,audiologist assessments and support groups are available for sufferers.
When you are suffering from tinnitus, it can be difficult to know where to start to get relief. There’s a constant and annoying ringing in your ears. It arrived out of the blue and hasn’t gone away. Do not panic. Tinnitus is not typically a sign of a serious, ongoing medical condition. Your first step is to make an appointment with an audiologist who is experienced in tinnitus treatment for a hearing evaluation.
Because tinnitus is a symptom of a problem, a HearingLife audiologist can uncover the underlying causes and available treatment options.Conditions that might cause tinnitus include hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, loud noise exposure, migraine headaches, a head injury, anemia, hypertension, stress, wax build-up in the ear,jaw problems, certain types of tumors, too much coffee, and smoking cigarettes.
Also, be sure to review all the current medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking with the audiologist as these might offer insight to the onset of the tinnitus.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do while you wait for your appointment. Be sure to minimize exposure to loud noise and wear ear protection when you anticipate being in loud environments, including exposure to heavy machinery, motorcycles and loud music.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine and try to reduce stress as these can aggravate tinnitus. Getting adequate rest, exercising and eating a healthy diet have been shown to minimize the effects of tinnitus.
Aids and Devices
While eliminating the underlying cause of tinnitus is the most effective treatment, in many cases, the cause cannot be identified and medical treatment is not an option. However, tinnitus can still be managed through a variety of methods including hearing aids, biofeedback, hypnosis, electrical stimulation, relaxation therapy, counseling, habituation therapies and sound machines.
If hearing loss is the cause of your tinnitus, a hearing aid may not only relieve your tinnitus but also help you hear. An audiologist may also suggest using a tinnitus masker, which look like hearing aids but produce sounds that mask the ringing sounds of tinnitus. The masker distracts from the ringing sound and makes it more tolerable for the sufferer. There are also devices incorporating both a hearing aid and a masker.
Sound machines or fish tanks, fans or indoor waterfalls also help in distracting a tinnitus sufferer from the ringing. These provide comforting, steady background (or white) noise and can be beneficial at night or in quiet environments. An audiologist will be able to help you determine which device is most effective for your condition.
There are local, regional and national support groups, where those suffering from tinnitus can find resources, help, and camaraderie. The American Tinnitus Association support network is made up of dedicated support group leaders and help network volunteers.
This network provides information on where local support groups meet, how to start a support group and how to become a volunteer with the organization. It also provides information on the latest research on tinnitus, treatment options and coping strategies.
Because tinnitus can be difficult to describe or predict, with a support group, you will find others who understand your struggles even if they don’t hear your exact ringing.
You’ll also have better access to resources to educate your family and friends about tinnitus and how certain environments are more difficult for you and how they can best support you.
Many times these groups also promote feelings of hope and control as members share ways in which they have been successful in dealing with tinnitus. The groups also remind you that you are not alone and others are living full lives while managing their tinnitus.
Tinnitus should never be viewed as a life sentence of ringing-in-the-ear discomfort. There continue to be new advancements in understanding the condition as well as treatments. So, be sure to meet with a professional as well as join a support group to help you navigate the medical world and provide you with answers and understanding about tinnitus.
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