What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is known commonly as “ringing of the ears.” It is a condition in which a person hears a sound without the stimulus from an external source. Tinnitus appears differently depending on the person: a rush of air, a clicking, cracking, pop, whistling, or in some rare cases, music. Tinnitus might be temporary, lasting as little as a minute or two, or it could be chronic, which lasts for days and weeks.
Approximately 10% of adults in the US experience tinnitus. An estimated 60% of veterans returning from combat zones report cases of tinnitus, as well as hearing loss.
What are the types of tinnitus?
There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective.
Subjective tinnitus is the most common type of tinnitus, comprising 99% of cases. With subjective tinnitus, only the person who experiences the phantom sound is able to hear it.
Objective tinnitus is rare, comprising less than 1% of reported cases. With objective tinnitus, both the person who experiences tinnitus and a person sitting in close proximity are able to hear the sound.
The Link Between Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that 90% of tinnitus cases occur with an underlying hearing loss. Tinnitus and hearing loss share similarities: age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss are both caused by damage to inner ear hair cells. Damage to inner ear hair cells could also lead to tinnitus. Researchers have suggested that when these cells are damaged, they send phantom signals to the brain to be registered as sound. This sound is what we recognize as tinnitus.
Problems with the ear bone and earwax blockage in the ear canal may lead to hearing loss as well as tinnitus. Certain classes of drugs, ranging from antibiotics to chemotherapy treatment medication, have been found to damage inner ear hair cells, thus leading to hearing loss and tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a frustrating condition, especially for people who experience chronic tinnitus. The on-going tinnitus sound accompanies them from morning until night. It could affect one’s sleep patterns, and increase irritability, memory problems, concentration, and productivity. Tinnitus has been found to increase stress, anxiety, and depression, as well.
There is no definitive cure for tinnitus, although treating related medical issues and addressing hearing loss often alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. More often than not, tinnitus is the symptom of a related medical problem. Searching for the underlying cause and addressing it may relieve the tinnitus itself. Causes of tinnitus include impacted earwax, ear infection, tumors, circulation disorders, Meniere’s disease, or ototoxic medication. It is important to take a hearing test before beginning certain courses of medications. If you experiencing a ringing in your ear after beginning a new medication, talk to your doctor.
In cases where tinnitus and hearing loss are simultaneously experienced, the use of a hearing aid with built-in tinnitus therapy provides relief. These devices amplify hearing, reduce background noise, improve speech recognition, and mask the sounds of tinnitus. Hearing aid manufacturers have included tinnitus therapy as a main feature, due to the prevalence of tinnitus and hearing loss.
Hearing Aid Tinnitus Solutions
Since tinnitus commonly appears with hearing loss, treating tinnitus with a hearing aid is the best solution to reduce or mask the sounds. Major hearing aid manufacturers have advanced tinnitus therapy solutions.
Here at Aspire Hearing, we offer advanced hearing aids from Starkey Hearing Technologies, Oticon, Phonak, and ReSound. These brands provide excellent tinnitus solutions.
- Starkey Hearing Technologies: Multiflex Tinnitus Technology
- Multiflex Tinnitus Technology in several best-selling Starkey hearing aids, such as the Muse, Halo 2 Made for iPhone, and SoundLens. Multiflex Tinnitus Technology provides a flexible, customizable listening solution that allows you to fine-tune the sound stimulus. Multiflex Tinnitus Technology is designed for all-day relief and is easy to control with the touch of a finger. The SoundPoint tool allows you to customize your tinnitus treatment during the fitting stage of your Starkey hearing aids
- Oticon: Tinnitus Sound Support & App
- Oticon offers sound therapy in Alta, Nera, and Ria hearing aid models. Sound Support provides masking sounds to relieve the symptoms of tinnitus, allowing you to focus on the things you want to hear. The tinnitus sound app allows you to control your tinnitus therapy with ease on your smartphone. Choose from a wide variety of masking sounds and adjust the experience to meet your specific needs.
- Phonak: Tinnitus Balance Portfolio
- Phonak’s tinnitus solution consists of three parts: Tinnitus Balance hearing aids, a broadband noise generator, and sound therapy through a smartphone app (iPhone or Android). Phonak provides a digital wireless accessory to stream sounds to the Tinnitus Balance hearing aids. Phonak’s Tinnitus Balance allows you to choose between different listening experiences: amplification only, amplification and Tinnitus Balance noise generator, Tinnitus Balance noise generator only, or amplification with the Tinnitus App. Wearers may customize their experience by combining these options.
- ReSound: Relief App
- ReSound’s Relief App is controlled on your smartphone, which connects to the ReSound LiNX family of Made for iPhone hearing aids. The Relief App allows you to play soundscapes and perform audio exercises, balance therapy sounds between your ears, and turn on a timer to assist with sleep. With an extensive sound library that is fully customizable, wearers may layer therapy sounds to personalize the experience.