Millions of Americans experience tinnitus, an annoying but all-too-common condition that often resolves itself in a few minutes. However, when tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss or another hearing disorder, it can be chronic, an ever-present distraction and disturbance. Learn more about the types of tinnitus and what your symptoms could mean, as well as how to best treat your condition.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the perception of sound outside the ears that does not actually exist. This is commonly interpreted by the brain as a ringing, high-pitched sound, but can also be described as roaring, whistling, or humming. While most people experience tinnitus after prolonged exposure to loud environments or a sudden loud noise that goes away within a few minutes, people who experience tinnitus as a symptom of some underlying cause can experience it spontaneously and on a regular basis for years.
Types of Tinnitus
The two main types of tinnitus are subjective and objective tinnitus. Only a rare population ever experiences objective tinnitus, which is caused by something other people, like a doctor with a stethoscope, can also hear. This frequently occurs as a pulsing type of sound linked to the heart beat of the person experiencing it. Objective tinnitus is usually caused by vascular disorders or other very rare conditions.
Subjective tinnitus is what you’ve probably experienced at some point in your life, where the noise you hear is generated by your inner ear, rather than an external source. The causes can be varied, from hearing loss to aging to specific ear and hearing conditions like Meniere’s disease.
Treating tinnitus is possible with interventions like hearing aid technology and hearing therapies, but the type of treatment that will work for your unique experience of symptoms depends on what’s causing the tinnitus in the first place. There’s no known cure for every type of tinnitus, but there are effective methods of helping your brain essentially “tune out” the noise with hearing aids.
At Hearing Doctors of New Jersey, we use precise and comprehensive diagnostic tools and tests to identify your tinnitus symptoms. From there, we build a personalized treatment plan that works for you.
Static Noise Therapy
A common and simple solution is to basically drown out the tinnitus with a hearing aid tuned with a static noise generator that distracts you from the sensation of the ringing or buzzing you hear. Together with our Doctors of Audiology, you can work to find the frequency and level of background noise that allows you to focus on things other than the tinnitus.
For people with tonal tinnitus – the most common form of tinnitus – notch therapy can help teach their brain to ignore the stimulus of the condition through weeks or months of training. Advanced hearing aid technology matches the pitch of your perceived tinnitus and directs the brain’s attention away from the phantom noise. With time, this can allow you to ignore the sound without needing the stimulant of white noise.
Ocean Wave Therapy
Wave noise treatment for tinnitus uses pulsing, calming sounds to distract from tinnitus. Rather than a constant stimulant like static noise, sounds are repeated in rolling swells, resembling the waves at the beach. This helps some people who are experiencing tinnitus to associate their symptoms with relaxation and serenity.
Living With Tinnitus
Although there exists today many great hearing aid technologies that can help people ignore their tinnitus symptoms, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes, tinnitus isn’t completely treatable, meaning people are forced to live with their hearing reality. During a consultation and hearing assessment, we can help identify tips and habits to help you.
First, when you find yourself distracted by your tinnitus in a quiet environment, adding background noise like music or the radio can help you focus less on the tinnitus and be more present. Second, finding ways to minimize tinnitus-worsening conditions and substances can help reduce the severity of your tinnitus. Common triggers include stress, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
Finally, when self-management isn’t enough, there are many therapies we recommend, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), and progressive tinnitus management (PTM) that have helped many people achieve a normal lifestyle with tinnitus.
Tinnitus Diagnosis and Treatment in New Jersey
Getting to the source of your tinnitus or other hearing symptoms is our goal with our comprehensive hearing assessment using the H.E.A.R. Method™ Treatment Program to fully understand your tinnitus. Don’t suffer from tinnitus alone; find help at Hearing Doctors of New Jersey by scheduling an appointment online today.