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WHEN YOU’VE HEARD ENOUGH
Author: Dr.Tim Kuhn
Have you ever heard noises in your ears or head and wondered what they were or where they came from? Ear ringing or tinnitus is described as a phantom sound that is heard or perceived in the absence of any external sound signal. Approximately 10% to 15% of the population suffers from chronic tinnitus which is ear ringing that is present, at least intermittently, for 6 months or more.
Tinnitus can come in many forms and often differs from one person to the next. It has been described, by patients, as a whistling, hissing, roaring, or ringing. Some have even reported hearing music in their ears. This phenomenon is known as an auditory hallucination.
If tinnitus occurs for only a short while and soon disappears again it is called acute or temporary tinnitus. This can occur after exposure to loud auditory stimuli such as a music concert or gun fire. However, for others the ear ringing is more permanent and is present on a daily basis. For most it is only a minor irritant but for some it can become bothersome and even begin to interfere with their quality of life. Some patients often learn from their doctor or primary care provider that their tinnitus is untreatable. This can make the patient feel isolated as if no one can understand what they are going through. If you suffer from tinnitus please don’t feel this way. There are ways for you to address and cope with the problem and potentially alleviate the discomfort or annoyance you are experiencing.
Tinnitus is most commonly, but not always, associated with hearing loss. Over 90% of people with tinnitus are also affected by hearing impairment. Generally the greater the hearing loss the more likely one is to experience tinnitus. Tinnitus may also be caused from jaw dysfunction like temporal mandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) or teeth grinding. It may also be caused by chronic neck muscle strain, certain medications and chemotherapy.
So if you suffer from ringing in your ears or noises in your head where do you begin to find help? The answer is to contact an audiologist. An audiologist is a doctor of audiology who has extensive training in hearing and hearing related disorders. He or she should be the most qualified to start you on the path to managing your tinnitus. As indicated previously, 90% of all tinnitus patients suffer from some degree of hearing loss. I have found in my office that many of those patients who have enough hearing loss to warrant the use of hearing aids find relief from simply using amplification. The increased sound they get from hearing again relieves their ear ringing symptoms approximately 60% to 70% of the time. Most hearing aids now also contain maskers or noise makers that can cover up or deflect attention away from the ear noises. For others it may just be a matter of changing habits such as diet and exercise, while for others, maybe 10% of tinnitus sufferers, they may need more intensive therapy and there are audiologists, clinics and companies that perform this type of therapy. So when you’ve heard enough ringing in your ears consider doing something about it. Let me encourage you to contact your local audiologist to get started in addressing your problem, finding relief and taking control of your life and what you hear again.
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