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Beltone Blog: Hearing Aids Articles & Information

Tinnitus – What Is It and How Do You Treat It?

So you’ve noticed your ears are ringing and you’ve heard about a condition called tinnitus. But what exactly is it? More importantly, is there anything you can do to stop it? Read ahead to learn more.

Posted 07-01-2015 by jpatrick

The word tinnitus comes from the Latin tinnire which means, "to ring." Characterized by an incessant ringing sensation, buzzing or whistling sensation in the ears, the condition has afflicted famous individuals including former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Star Trek superstars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and even the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. 

So what exactly is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is NOT just hearing things

Tinnitus is not a psychological condition and those who suffer from it are not just "hearing things." But tinnitus is not a disease. Rather it’s a set of symptoms that can have a range of underlying causes. In our high-decibel world, noise is one of the biggest culprits, as well as:

  • A build-up of earwax or earwax impaction
  • Diabetes-related sensorineural hearing loss
  • Ototoxic (toxic to the ear) medications
  • Thyroid conditions, fibromyalgia, or Lyme disease
  • Meniere’s disease - a disorder of the inner ear
  • Jaw misalignment, head and neck trauma, or strained neck muscles due to arthritis or TMJ
  • Acoustic neuroma – a tumor that develops in the vestibular cochlear nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain
  • Problems with blood flow in arteries of the head or neck
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Hypertension

The degree and type of the tinnitus noise varies greatly between individuals. For some it can be quite loud while for others it's merely a minor irritating presence. For some people both ears are affected, for others just one. And it's certainly not uncommon. Estimates put the current number of current at 50 million.

What you can do about tinnitus

The first thing to do if you suspect you have tinnitus or any other hearing-related condition is see a medical professional to rule out a major medical conditions as the primary cause of your symptoms. After your doctor has confirmed that you do not suffer from a medical condition, it's time to turn to a hearing care professional who can advise you about next steps.

Some of the best treatments options your hearing care professional may recommend include:

The best hearing aids for tinnitus

Many tinnitus patients, especially those with hearing loss, experience complete or partial relief from tinnitus by using hearing aids.

For those with age-related hearing loss, tinnitus is often related to the loss of ambient sounds. By restoring those ambient sounds to an individual (if the hearing loss is in the same frequency range as the tinnitus), hearing aids may effectively eliminate the tinnitus.

The best app for tinnitus

To support the tinnitus relief offered by our hearing aids, Beltone developed the Tinnitus Calmer App, available for free on the Apple App Store or on Google Play. The Tinnitus Calmer App is a combination of sound therapy and relaxation exercises to "distract" your brain. The app features a variety of "sound-scapes" you can customize, plus you can add your own music and even pick colors for the app that you find the most calming. This app is a good step towards controlling your emotions related to tinnitus, helping you to "recondition" your reaction and thereby reduce the stress that can make tinnitus worse.

Think you may be experiencing tinnitus related to hearing loss? Give us a call today at 1-800-BELTONE or book your free hearing appointment at a Beltone location.

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