What is Tinnitus and Where Did It Come From?
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external sound source is present. It can manifest as ringing, rushing, hissing, whooshing, or other noises. Tinnitus is also known as “The Ear’s Phantom Limb” because it presents itself as a perception of sound from the brain when the ear isn’t actually receiving the sound. “You can think of tinnitus as phantom sound the same way as phantom pain: there’s no external source of the signal. It’s generated, we think, somewhere along the pathway from your cochlea to your brain’s auditory cortex.”¹
Tinnitus can be temporary or chronic, and it can have various causes. It is most commonly caused by damage to your hearing and auditory system, including the nerve which transfers sound from your ear to your brain. Some of these damages could be due to aging, noise exposure, toxic medications, or a virus.
The Direct and Indirect Ways to Treat Tinnitus
There are both direct and indirect ways to stimulate the nerve from your ear-to-brain and treat your tinnitus, depending on your severity of the disorder.
Direct – The most effective and direct treatment of tinnitus is to provide proper stimulation to your auditory system, including your ear-to-brain nerve. Using modern treatment technology, it is recommended to begin your prescription at around 80% of the sound stimuli your nerve requires. Over the next 30-45 days, gradually increase the amount of sound support to your auditory system until you’ve reached your full prescription and your short-term tinnitus has been lessened. Throughout your ongoing tinnitus treatment, continue to fine-tune your prescription and make frequency modifications that allow you to put the frustration, irritation, and distraction of tinnitus behind you permanently. These are the steps that are taken during the treatment of tinnitus at Everything Hearing.
Indirect – An indirect and less effective approach to tinnitus is “distracting” your mind away from the constant ringing, whooshing, or buzzing by introducing an additional sound. This is considered “indirect stimulation” of the auditory system. The most common noises used are white noise or music. Other indirect approaches include sleeping with the television on, keeping a fan on, and other forms of noise generators, such as non-FDA-approved tinnitus maskers. These techniques are used to distract your brain by asking it to focus on different sounds. One of the main issues with this approach is that patients often feel they are trading one bothersome sound for another.
Patients who opt for medical treatment to address their tinnitus often experience newfound confidence and independence, no longer troubled by bothersome ringing, swooshing, or buzzing sensations in their ears. Our advanced treatment process has proven highly successful, as it aims to restore sound activity within the auditory system. Through this process, we work to retrain the auditory system, enabling it to accurately identify sounds and effectively diminish the erroneous surge in neural activity associated with tinnitus. As a result, our patients find relief and a better quality of life. “Tinnitus can affect your quality of life. Your healthcare provider may be able to determine the underlying cause, which can then be treated. Work with your healthcare provider to determine strategies for reducing tinnitus.”²
When done properly, patients living with tinnitus have an 80%+ chance of living with reduced, and often eliminated, tinnitus perception.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options in Meridian and Caldwell, ID
At Everything Hearing in Meridian and Caldwell, Idaho, we specialize in the personal treatment of hearing loss that goes well beyond traditional hearing aids. (And of course, we provide hearing aids for purchase or lease!) Our practice goes beyond the traditional audiology treatments.
Since everyone’s hearing loss differs, we use various tools to treat individual hearing loss. Some of these treatment tools include:
• Cognivue screenings
• Listening and communication enhancement auditory training
• Aural rehabilitation software
• And of course, technology treatments such as hearing aids
We have two Idaho locations, in Caldwell and in Meridian, so that we are easily accessible to anyone in the Treasure Valley area who is seeking to learn more about their hearing loss and the Technical Treatment Plan options we offer. Contact us for a free booklet with more information or make an appointment today!
¹Harvard: Mirror Therapy for Tinnitus
²Johns Hopkins Medicine: Tinnitus