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Tinnitus is defined as a perception of sound when there is no actual sound in the environment. It is generally perceived in the ears, head, or both. It may sound like crickets, a buzzing, hissing, whooshing, ringing, or other type of sound. Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease and not necessarily a sign of a serious medical condition. A thorough medical evaluation should be performed prior to any tinnitus treatment in order to rule out a treatable medical condition.
The tinnitus and hyperacusis (decreased tolerance to sound) program of North Shore Audio-Vestibular Lab is an individualized program designed to diagnose, evaluate and treat tinnitus and hyperacusis. The goal is to reduce the disturbing nature of the tinnitus and decreased tolerance to sound through counseling, education, and presentation of various treatment options.
The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) estimates that 50 million Americans have tinnitus and for approximately 12 million of them, the tinnitus is severe and debilitating. Those who have a severe negative reaction to the tinnitus may report problems with concentration, sleep, interpersonal relationships, and general sense of well being.
The evaluation appointment generally takes several hours. It includes a detailed case history, a number of diagnostic procedures and concludes with a review of all test findings and a presentation of treatment options.
Click on the links below for more information on Tinnitus and Hyperacusis
What Is Tinnitus?
Living With Tinnitus
Tinnitus Treatment Options
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be defined as a perception of sound. It is often described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or whooshing in the ears or head. It is not a disease. It is a symptom. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss.
The sounds may be low pitched or high pitched, tonal or have a noise/hissing like quality.
Tinnitus increases with age.
Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?
No. However, tinnitus may be worse when hearing loss is present. Often, tinnitus gets blamed for what is really a hearing problem.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus can have many causes. Excessive noise exposure may be one of the most common and controllable causes of tinnitus and hearing loss.
It may be caused by a problem in the outer ear (ear canal) such as cerumen.
It may be caused by problems in the middle ear such as eustachian tube dysfunction, middle ear fluid, infection, otosclerosis or other middle ear issues.
Disorders of the inner ear such as sensory hearing loss, Meniere's disease, cochlear hydrops, inner ear infection, or the natural process of aging may contribute to tinnitus.
Metabolic disorders are often associated with tinnitus. High or low blood pressure, diabetes, vascular disorders, tumors of the auditory nerve, head or neck aneurysms have also been associated with tinnitus.
Review your medications. A number of medications may cause or contribute to the perception of tinnitus.
Medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, quinine, n-saids, antidepressants, sedatives, some antibiotics or chemotherapeutic medications may cause or exacerbate tinnitus.
Some people with tinnitus will find that certain foods may trigger or exacerbate tinnitus. Things such as sodium, sugars, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine may impact tinnitus.
Are there different kinds of tinnitus?
The most common type of tinnitus is Subjective Tinnitus. This type of tinnitus is audible to the person that perceives it. It is often said to "originate in the head of its owner". The loudness of a person's tinnitus is not necessarily related to the disturbance level of the tinnitus.
There is another type of tinnitus known as Objective Tinnitus or a Somatosound. This type of tinnitus is often related to some vascular, muscular, or other vibratory event occurring in the body.
Subjective tinnitus is far more common than objective tinnitus.
What should I do if I have tinnitus?
Don't panic. Tinnitus is not necessarily a sign of a serious medical problem.
You should however be medically evaluated to be certain that your tinnitus is not a result of a treatable medical condition.
Take note of conditions or situations that seem to exacerbate your tinnitus. Stress and anxiety can exacerbate tinnitus. Are there things you can do to minimize these conditions?
Take note also of situations when the tinnitus disturbance is minimized. This often occurs when one is engaged in an activity that takes significant concentration or when one is engaged in an enjoyable activity.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
Currently, there is no known universal cure for tinnitus. There are however, a number of things that have been found to produce relief.
Acoustic therapies have been found to be helpful for many with tinnitus. These types of therapies may include use of:
Other treatments or activities have also been reported to be helpful for some: