October is National Audiology Awareness Month, an opportunity to learn more about audiology and the importance of hearing protection. Audiologists in El Paso treat more than just hearing loss; they also help patients manage tinnitus – a persistent ringing (or similar sound) in the ears. There is no cure for tinnitus, but a recent breakthrough in the U.K. offers hope for those who suffer.
Tinnitus is a widespread condition that affects roughly one out of five people in El Paso and across the country. People with tinnitus hear noise in their ears despite the absence of an external source. It is frequently described as a ringing in the ears, but the experience differs among each individual. Sounds resembling whistling, hissing, roaring, whooshing, clicking, buzzing, and more have all been reported.
Tinnitus isn’t a disease itself, but rather, a symptom of an underlying condition. There are many possible causes, including age-related hearing loss, noise exposure, otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorders, head and neck trauma, acoustic neuroma, high blood pressure, earwax, and certain medications. Often, the exact cause can’t be determined. Tinnitus ranges in severity from a minor nuisance to a constant distraction that can severely impact a person’s daily life. It can lead to fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, sleeping problems, memory loss, and concentration difficulties.
Audiologists focus on managing the symptoms of tinnitus in order to provide relief. Common treatments include noise suppression therapy, medications, relaxation exercises, counseling, and lifestyle modifications.
An Online Tool for Tinnitus Sufferers
Researchers at The Tinnitus Clinic, the UK’s leading provider of evidence-based treatment for tinnitus, have developed an online “sound matching” tool that enables users to choose a sound that most closely resembles the one they are hearing. Once they have made their selection, they are provided with a variety of potential treatment options custom tailored to their tinnitus.
Chief Audiologist Mark Williams explains, “Whether it’s a whistle, constant hiss, low-frequency buzz or high-pitched ringing, the sounds caused by tinnitus are all in our heads…no two people’s experience of tinnitus is the same; tinnitus is personal to the individual, so each patient therefore needs a personal service.
No word on whether this innovative sound matching tool might be available for patients in the U.S., but there are plenty of other solutions to help manage tinnitus stateside. Your El Paso audiologist can provide you with the proper tools and strategies for quieting the distraction in your head. Contact them today!