Cutting edge tinnitus solutions
What is Tinnitus?
Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, or hissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or all the time? Does the sound bother you a lot? If you answer yes to these questions, you may have tinnitus (tin-NY-
Roughly 25 million Americans have experienced tinnitus. Some cases are so severe that it interferes with their daily activities. People with severe cases of tinnitus may find it difficult to hear, work, or even sleep.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Loud Sounds – One extremely loud sound and/or exposure to loud sounds over time can both cause tinnitus.
Medications – More than 200 medications can cause tinnitus.
Allergies – Allergic reactions can cause both temporary or permanent tinnitus.
Other Causes – Tumors, circulatory problems, and jaw or neck problems can all cause tinnitus.
The Tinnitus Evaluation
A tinnitus evaluation is a continuation of the hearing evaluation. We will further evaluate your tinnitus by testing frequencies beyond the normal hearing test. We will match the pitch and loudness of your tinnitus in order to give us information about our ability to mask, change or interact with your tinnitus as treatment. This information will help us to decide which treatment options are best suited for you. Additionally, we will evaluate loudness tolerance in a controlled environment. Often, individuals with hearing loss and tinnitus also suffer from sound sensitivity.
The Next Step
Tinnitus is a much-disputed subject. Although significant research is being done, no consensus has been reached on the cause. There are several proposed methods of treatment. But literature and research suggest there are common elements of effective tinnitus management within these proposed methods. Elite Hearing uses one or all of these methods to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient suffering from tinnitus.
Dr. Kovel will use your health history, an additional Tinnitus questionnaire, and your hearing test to determine your treatment options. Sometimes, patients are referred to other healthcare providers for additional testing when necessary.
Options for Tinnitus Treatment
Elite Hearing always starts every tinnitus management program by helping patients understand what is known about tinnitus, potential causes, its relationship to hearing, various treatment options and the brain’s ability to pay attention or ignore information. Together, we will determine the best option for you.
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What Can I Do To Help Myself?
Think about things that will help you cope. Many people find listening to music very helpful. Focusing on music might help you forget about your tinnitus for a while. It can also help to mask the sound. Other people like to listen to recorded nature sounds, like ocean waves, the wind, or even crickets. Essentially, avoid complete silence to help cope with the effect of tinnitus.
Avoid anything that can make your tinnitus worse, such as smoking, alcohol and loud noise. If you are regularly exposed to loud noise at home or at work, wear earplugs or special earmuffs to protect your hearing and keep your tinnitus from getting worse.
Avoid Loud Sounds
Wear Hearing Protection
Along the path a hearing signal travels to get from the inner ear to the brain, there are many places where things can go wrong to cause tinnitus. If scientists can understand what goes on in the brain to start tinnitus and cause it to persist, they can look for those places in the system where therapeutic intervention could stop tinnitus in its tracks. Promising research directions into tinnitus treatments include:
Stimulation of brain areas involved in hearing.
Implantable devices already exist to reduce the trembling of Parkinson’s disease and the anxieties of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Similar devices could be developed to normalize the neural circuits involved in tinnitus.
Hyperactivity and deep brain stimulation
Researchers have observed hyperactivity in neural networks after exposing the ear to intense noise. Understanding specifically where in the brain this hyperactivity begins and how it spreads to other areas could lead to treatments that use deep brain stimulation to calm the neural networks and reduce tinnitus.
Resetting the tonotopic map
Researchers are exploring how to take advantage of the tonotopic map, which organizes neurons in the auditory cortex according to the frequency of the sound to which they respond. Previous research has shown a change in the organization of the tonotopic map after exposing the ear to intense noise. By understanding how these changes happen, researchers could develop techniques to bring the map back to normal and relieve tinnitus.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
This technique, which uses a small device placed on the scalp to generate short magnetic pulses, is already being used to normalize electrical activity in the brains of people with epilepsy. Preliminary trials of rTMS in humans, funded by the NIDCD, are helping researchers pinpoint the best places in the brain to stimulate in order to suppress tinnitus. Researchers are also looking for ways to identify which people are most likely to respond well to stimulation devices.
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