What is Tinnitus?
Each year about 1 in 10 adults nationwide has an episode of tinnitus that lasts longer than 3 months. Tinnitus isn’t a disease. Instead, it’s a symptom that something is wrong with your auditory system. The problem may exist somewhere in your ear, in the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain or in the parts of the brain that make sense of sounds.
Because tinnitus can arise from so many conditions, ranging from hearing
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a symptom that something is wrong in the auditory system. Something as simple as a piece of earwax blocking the ear canal can cause tinnitus. But it can also be the result of a number of health conditions, such as:
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Ear and sinus infections
- Diseases of the heart or blood vessels
- Ménière’s disease
- Brain tumors
- Hormonal changes in women
- Thyroid abnormalities
Hearing aids often are helpful for people who have hearing loss along with tinnitus. Using a hearing aid adjusted to carefully control outside sound levels may make it easier for you to hear. The better you hear, the less you may notice your tinnitus.
Most counseling programs have an educational component The programs are designed to help you understand what goes on in the brain to cause tinnitus and will help you to change the way you think about and react to your tinnitus.
Cochlear implants can be used in people who have tinnitus along with severe hearing loss. A cochlear implant sends electrical signals that directly stimulate the auditory nerve to help mask tinnitus and stimulate change in the neural circuits.
Wearable Sound Generators
Small electronic devices fit in the ear and use a pleasant sound to help mask the tinnitus. Most people prefer a masking level that is just a bit louder than their tinnitus. The masking sound can be a soft “shh,” random tones, or music.
Tabletop Sound Generators
These are used as an aid for relaxation or sleep. Placed near your bed, you can program a generator to play pleasant sounds such as waves, waterfalls or rain. If your tinnitus is mild, this might be all you need to help you fall asleep.
Acoustic Neural Stimulation
Acoustic neural stimulation uses a palm-sized device and headphones to deliver a broadband acoustic signal embedded in music. The treatment helps stimulate change in the neural circuits in the brain, desensitizing you to the tinnitus.
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