According to the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus affects approximately 50 million Americans and is a commonly referred ear problem. Of these 50 million people, 16 million have symptoms severe enough that they seek medical attention, and 2 million cannot function “normally” on a day-to-day basis
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control National Health and Nutritional Examinations Survey, a longitudinal study of the health of the American population has reported:
- 15 percent of all survey respondents experienced some form of tinnitus
- 67 percent of people reporting tinnitus had regular symptoms for over a year
- 26 percent of people reporting tinnitus had constant or near constant tinnitus
- 30 percent of people reporting tinnitus classified their condition as a “moderate” to “very big” problem in their life
Clearly, many people struggle with hearing a constant ringing, chirping or white noise, and some find it so disruptive, it’s disabling.
Who Can Help?
You can seek help from a wide variety of healthcare professionals for tinnitus, including but not limited to, audiologists, otolaryngologists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, dentists, and physical therapists.
An audiologist is a healthcare professional trained to identify, diagnose, and manage or treat disorders of the auditory (e.g., hearing loss and tinnitus) and vestibular systems (e.g., dizziness). As part of a treatment program, audiologists may recommend hearing aids to make day-to-day listening easier, improve awareness, and help with tinnitus. Some audiologists may also have additional training in the specialized evaluation and management of tinnitus and provide services such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, Tinnitus Activities Treatment, Progressive Tinnitus Management, etc.
Some Audiologists Specialize in Diagnosing and Managing Tinnitus
Susan Smittkamp, Au.D., Ph.D., FAAA, Tinnitus and Sound Sensitivity Specialist and Audiologist, specializes in diagnosing and managing tinnitus and sound sensitivity. Dr. Smittkamp earned both her Doctorate of Audiology and her Doctorate of Philosophy in audiology degrees from the University of Kansas. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the Tinnitus Practitioners Association.
While hearing aids often help many patients with tinnitus, Dr. Smittkamp also has advanced training in the most current therapeutic technologies for tinnitus, including Neuromonics.
Dr. Smittkamp, also treats patients with hyperacusis, a disorder of loudness perception, and misophonia, the dislike of specific sounds. Both of these conditions may be caused by a dysfunction of the central auditory system in the brain.