Tinnitus is a common condition for people with hearing loss that can be just as or even more bothersome at times. We need our providers’ help in sifting through the fads and scams that abound on the Internet so we can find the tools that really help. In my recent article for Ida Institute, I discuss the ways providers can help people with hearing loss manage their tinnitus. See an excerpt below.
Read the full article here.
Tinnitus: My Unwanted Companion
Arriving home from a busy day of errands and shopping, I enter my quiet apartment and sigh with relief. New York City noise, while a bit reduced from pre-pandemic levels, can still be overwhelming. But when my tinnitus is acting up—and it seems to spike each year as the weather turns colder—the sigh of relief upon entering my quiet home becomes a groan of frustration. The silence is marred by the ringing and buzzing in my ears. My tinnitus is back.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the experience of sound when none is present. It most commonly manifests as a buzzing or ringing but it can take many forms, including music. For some people, tinnitus is loud enough to drown out speech, while for others it is a quiet purr in the background.
Living with tinnitus can be extremely debilitating. The constant noise can lead to social isolation, depression, and feelings of hopelessness. When mine spikes it immediately impacts my mood. I get frustrated because I cannot hear as well over the sound, and fearful that it may not recede into the background again. It saps my energy and my ability to focus.
But there are ways to help alleviate the discomfort.
Strategies to Help Manage Tinnitus
When patients ask providers about tinnitus, we often get few definitive answers, in part because there is currently no cure or medical treatment. Some audiologists may recommend tinnitus-masking hearing aids (many hearing aids now offer this feature), while others may simply say, “There is not much you can do.”
Yet there are many things we can do to better manage our tinnitus. Providers can assist by sharing the techniques below.
Masking the sound
Playing music or white noise in the background can sometimes mask the unwanted noise. This is why hearing aids can sometimes help with tinnitus. By bringing additional noise into our ears, we can offset the “phantom sound” of our tinnitus. This is one of the reasons I wear extended-wear hearing aids. The real sounds around me overshadow the roar of my tinnitus, making it easier to sleep.
For more strategies, continue reading on Ida Institute.