Tinnitus is generally known as “ringing in the ears.” It’s the perception of sound with no outside source, and it’s a very common condition in the United States. Roughly 15% of Americans have some form of tinnitus (American Tinnitus Association, 2018).
Ringing, Whooshing, Roaring
The experience of tinnitus varies immensely from person to person. For some people, tinnitus presents as a constant high-pitched ringing, while others hear crickets, roaring, pulsating noises, or even voices singing.
Can Cause Depression, Anxiety, Stress
A majority of individuals aren’t bothered by their tinnitus; however, others like John (name changed to protect patient’s identity), have developed a significant negative reaction to their tinnitus, which can cause depression, anxiety, and increased stress.
No Cure, But Tinnitus Can Be Managed
There is no known cure for tinnitus so most physicians advise their patients to “just get used to it.” However, for those with a severe reaction to their tinnitus, this is not easily achieved. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, it can be managed. We help test and manage tinnitus in many of our patients at Ascent Audiology & Hearing.
John Had Significant Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
John was seen by Dr. Thorne in early 2017 with significant tinnitus in both ears. He took the Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire (TRQ), which is a subjective tool to measure the effect of the tinnitus, and scored in the Severe (Level 4) range. His tinnitus had caused constant depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and even thoughts of suicide. A hearing test revealed a moderate hearing loss.
Treatment with Sound Therapy
The best way to manage tinnitus is with sound therapy/masking and cognitive therapy. Sound therapy trains the brain to focus on some other pleasant sound and not on the unpleasant tinnitus. John was fit with a pair of hearing aids with Zen masking noise to a) treat the hearing loss he was experiencing, and b) provide sound masking in the ears to begin masking the tinnitus.
… and Cognitive Therapy and Counseling
John also went through the University of Maryland Tinnitus Treatment Program, where he was educated on tinnitus, given a full comprehensive evaluation on his hearing and tinnitus, and counseled privately about his tinnitus and the impact it has on his daily life.
John’s Tinnitus Went from Severe to Slight
By wearing hearing aids and using the sound masking feature consistently, combined with the counseling and education he received on tinnitus, John has noticed a significant improvement in the quality of his life. Recently he took the Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire (TRQ) again and scored in the Slight (Level 1) range. John has stated his life has been saved by taking these measures to manage his tinnitus!
Schedule a Tinnitus Evaluation
If you or someone you know is experiencing tinnitus, please call our office at (703) 942-8110 for an evaluation. Tinnitus CAN be managed and does not have to be a burden in your daily life.
By Dr. Wendy Thorne, Ascent Audiology & Hearing
- University of Maryland Tinnitus Treatment Program (https://www.umms.org/ummc/health-services/hearing-balance/services/tinnitus/tinnitus-treatment
- American Tinnitus Association (2018). https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts