Tinnitus is something that we have all likely experienced at some point, even if unfamiliar with its symptoms. It appears as a type of noise, like buzzing or ringing, that is not influenced by external output. In most cases, tinnitus is fleeting and usually appears in response to exposure to loud noises, like after a concert or a firework show, but for some people, tinnitus is permanent.
Without proper treatment, tinnitus can impact several aspects of a person’s life. The constant ringing makes it difficult to concentrate, follow conversations, sleep, or just relax. For some cases of tinnitus, it can be cured by using medicine like cortisone, but this is only possible if the tinnitus has been an issue for less than three months. If the symptoms persist for more than three months, then the condition is considered chronic and there is no cure. There are, however, treatment options that will lessen its effects.
With tinnitus, as with hearing loss, it’s very important to seek professional help as early as possible. Due to the fleeting nature of tinnitus, a doctor’s visit is recommended if the symptoms have persisted for over 24 hours. A doctor will ask questions and perform tests to determine what treatment would work best and advise the patient on how to deal with tinnitus. In the case of chronic tinnitus, a doctor may recommend long-term options such as tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), which combines direct counseling and sound therapy, or hearing aids.
Hearing aids and tinnitus are often paired together because of the correlation between them. For some people with hearing loss, the lack of external sound stimuli can influence how the brain processes different frequencies. Because of this, their tinnitus is often at the same frequency as their hearing loss. Hearing aids are especially useful in these situations because they can amplify sounds at a certain frequency to compensate for hearing loss, while masking the sounds of tinnitus.
Another way that hearing aids can lessen the effects of tinnitus is by amplifying background noise that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. By focusing on more pleasant ambient sounds, the ringing of tinnitus becomes masked and less persistent. Noise machines, fish tanks, and air filters are also good ways of masking tinnitus if hearing aids aren’t an option.
For most people, hearing aids are the best approach to dealing with tinnitus. And in many cases, noise machines, TRT, and methods of relaxation are additional ways of helping with the condition. Stress has been known to aggravate tinnitus, so a key part of managing it, is to decrease stress levels. Relaxing activities such as tai chi and yoga are often recommended for people with tinnitus. Moreover, another way of reducing stress is through education about tinnitus itself.
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