Tinnitus is a condition that causes a person to experience ringing, buzzing or other noises in their ears. It can be caused by many different things including medication side effects, hearing loss due to ageing, and exposure to loud noises.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatments available that can help reduce the symptoms.
What is Tinnitus
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing ringing or buzzing in the ears, even when there is no external sound. This condition can have various forms, such as high-pitched or low-pitched, constant or rhythmic, and may resemble sounds like buzzing, whooshing, crackling, or even crickets.
While tinnitus is a common phenomenon, it does not necessarily cause discomfort for everyone. Yet, in some cases, the symptoms could be extremely distressing and disrupt daily routines, such as affecting mood, ability to focus, and sleep patterns.
What are the Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a sensation that feels like it’s coming from nowhere and can be worsened by stress, leaving patients feeling helpless. The most common cause of tinnitus is related to ear conditions and hearing loss.
In addition to hearing loss, tinnitus can also be caused by various other factors such as issues with the neck or brain, seizures, migraines, temporomandibular joint problems, blood vessel disorders, side effects of certain drugs, somatic associations like myofascial trigger points, and psychiatric disorders.
Diagnosing this condition can be challenging because it may be linked to menopause and specific genetic markers. It is not always a straightforward ear diagnosis, so a multidisciplinary team approach may be necessary.
How is Tinnitus Diagnosed
The ENT doctor will start by conducting a thorough medical history and physical examination to determine if any underlying medical conditions may be causing your tinnitus.
A hearing test will also be performed to assess hearing as tinnitus is often related to hearing loss. If the tinnitus remains even after comprehensive medical intervention by the ENT doctor, tinnitus management is provided by the audiologist who will assess the patient’s specific needs.
How is Tinnitus Treated
For tinnitus, it is better to seek early treatment for better outcomes. Chronic tinnitus has lesser effective treatments, and severe tinnitus can cause anxiety, fear and depression.
After hearing tests, the audiologist and patient will develop a personalized program to determine the factors that affect tinnitus severity and explore various coping strategies to help the patient find relief.
The tinnitus management program aims to reduce the perception of sounds in the ears and improve quality of life by providing education, utilizing sound-based methods, and managing reactions to tinnitus.
It is important to have regular check-ins and follow-ups for patients with tinnitus. The tinnitus management program lasts three months and consists of three 90-minute sessions. The program takes a holistic approach to providing relief for tinnitus through take-home exercises and monitoring based on the individual needs of the patients during and after the program.
General Flow of Tinnitus Management Program
Here is the general flow of the tinnitus management program to help patients cope with their condition:
Session 1: Education and Counselling
- Administer tinnitus questionnaire
- Education and counselling session
Session 2: Sound-based Tinnitus Therapy
- Trial & loan sound devices for tinnitus therapy based on individual needs
- Sound plan worksheet
Changing Thoughts and Managing Feelings
- Learn behaviours & exercises that can help manage reactions to tinnitus
- Take-home exercises
- Milestone check
Tinnitus management is an ongoing process that requires patience and resilience. It is important to create an individualised program tailored to the patient’s needs, as no two people have the same experience of tinnitus.
If you think you may have tinnitus, you can go for a free hearing test to get checked.