According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), over 45 million Americans struggle with tinnitus, or ringing in their ears, making it one of the most common health conditions in the United States.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of an external sound source. Tinnitus can take on any number of characteristics and is usually a sound that only you can hear. You can experience tinnitus that varies from soft to loud and from low to high pitch.
Some individuals describe their tinnitus as so bothersome, it interferes with daily life. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutritional Examinations Survey found:
- 26% of people reporting tinnitus had constant or near constant tinnitus
- 30% of people reporting tinnitus classified their condition as a “moderate” to “very big” problem in their life
Applying these findings to the national population suggests that nearly 20 million people are dealing with burdensome tinnitus on a regular basis; and approximately 2 million people are struggling with severe, sometimes debilitating, tinnitus.
Unfortunately, those with debilitating tinnitus are prime targets for claims of cures. Tinnitus is one of the most searched terms on the internet, and so is the phrase “tinnitus cure.”
Take Extreme Caution to Products that Claim to “Cure” Tinnitus
If you find a product that claims to “cure” tinnitus, beware. These products often take advantage of individuals who are desperate for relief from their tinnitus. There is currently no clinically proven way to fully eliminate the perception of tinnitus.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, the primary objective for all currently available tinnitus management options is to lower the perceived burden of tinnitus, allowing the patient to function more normally in daily life.
Currently available management options are not “cures” — they don’t repair the underlying causes of tinnitus, or eliminate the tinnitus signal in the brain. Instead, they address the attentional, emotional, and cognitive impact of tinnitus. They help patients live better, more fulfilling, and more productive lives, even if the perception of tinnitus remains.
Here are some common tinnitus management options utilized by Associated Audiologists:
- Hearing aids may be particularly useful in managing tinnitus for many patients. Some hearing aids include supplemental sound generator functionality (white noise or other sounds, such as soothing chimes or fractals, played directly into the ear) that help mask or reduce the perception of tinnitus.
- Desyncra for Tinnitus is a targeted, neuroscience-based therapy designed to desynchronize pathological neuronal activity in tinnitus neuronal networks. This noninvasive therapy is tailored to the patient’s unique tinnitus profile. The therapeutic stimulus is delivered over a 36-week period, using proprietary earphones and software on an Apple platform. The stimulus is non-disruptive, so it is convenient to use while participating in normal activities. Typically, patients notice a reduction in tinnitus loudness and annoyance within a few weeks of starting therapy, with benefits lasting beyond the therapy period.
- The Levo system by Otoharmonics is a personalized, neuroscience-based sound therapy tool that is designed for use during sleep, when the brain is especially responsive to habituation. The patient’s unique tinnitus sound-print is identified and delivered, using proprietary earphones and software on an Apple platform. Used nightly for 90 days and as needed thereafter, patients gradually habituate to their tinnitus.
- Neuromonics Oasis is a customized sound therapy tool that uses modified music and relaxation tracks to reduce tinnitus awareness and disturbance. Patients usually experience relief early on in the therapy period. Continued use promotes tinnitus habituation.
Ask your Local Audiologist for a First Opinion
In most cases, an audiologist is the health care professional you should see first to assess your tinnitus. The audiologist will likely start by conducting a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine if there is any hearing loss, and to assess the level of tinnitus disturbance. When appropriate, medical referrals can be made.
At Associated Audiologists, we offer a comprehensive tinnitus management program to assist in diagnosing and managing care for individuals who have tinnitus.
The practice can provide initial diagnostic assessments for tinnitus and hearing loss and also provides specialized services by Susan Smittkamp, Au.D., Ph.D., tinnitus specialist. Dr. Smittkamp uses the most sophisticated technology available in the greater Kansas City area to diagnose and manage tinnitus.
To learn more about tinnitus, download our free e-book.
Call 913-403-0018 to schedule an appointment with our tinnitus specialist.