Millions of people around the world have been effectively robbed of silence because of tinnitus. Tinnitus is defined as a ringing, whooshing, whistling, buzzing or hissing sound that some people hear, but doesn’t actually exist. Medical science believes that tinnitus is a sensorineural response of the brain to any damage in the auditory system. While not a condition itself, tinnitus is often a symptom of something else.

Causes of tinnitus

There can be many different causes of tinnitus – some more serious than the others. If you have tinnitus and would like to treat it, the first thing you need to do is get a diagnosis on what is causing your tinnitus. Once your audiologist uncovers the underlying condition leading to the ringing in your ears, you will be one step closer to getting rid of it.

Diagnosing the cause of tinnitus

Even though a well-known phenomenon, tinnitus is an experience that is subjective to each patient. This makes it hard for individuals to describe it to audiologists, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Asking questions, like how long has it been going on for, what time of the day does it worsen, is it a pulsating sensation, does it happen in both ears, is it a high pitch or low pitch sound or are there any stimuli that make it worse, can help the audiologist understand your tinnitus.

You may need to provide your audiologist with your medical history, as well as any diseases running in your family. Your audiologist may also conduct a few tests to help you describe your tinnitus more accurately. These tests may include a pitch match test, a loudness match test or a visual analog scale.   

Treating tinnitus

Despite the strides in modern technology, there still isn’t a sure-shot cure for tinnitus. There also seems to be little knowledge on exactly why it occurs. In many cases, symptoms of tinnitus alleviate as the underlying condition causing it is treated. However, in cases where the tinnitus is permanent, getting rid of it can become a lot more challenging.

Even though tinnitus cannot be cured, there are several ways to relieve it. There are a variety of methods to treat and manage tinnitus, including:

  • Hearing aids: People that have tinnitus brought on by hearing loss can benefit a lot from hearing aids. By amplifying external sound input entering the ears, hearing aids help mask the sound of tinnitus.
  • Tinnitus masking devices: These are specialized devices worn in the ear like a hearing aid and produce a constant signal or tonal beat that competes with the sound of your tinnitus, thereby helping to cover it.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy: This is a behavioral therapy aimed at changing the way the patient perceives their tinnitus. TRT works alongside a masking device to help teach patients how to ‘ignore’ the ringing noise in their ears.
  • White noise generating machines: Tinnitus is often worse when the patient is in a quiet space. White noise generating machines bathe the room in background noise to help ignore the tinnitus.

If you’re experiencing a ringing or buzzing in your ears, don’t hesitate to contact an audiologist in your area. Tinnitus can be incredibly detrimental to your overall wellbeing, so seek treatment as soon as possible!