Do You Hear Ringing, Buzzing or Humming? You Are Not Alone!

Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, which is the perception of sound (usually ringing, buzzing or humming), when no other sound is present. The majority of researchers agree that tinnitus develops due to a miscommunication between the inner ear organ of hearing, (the cochlea) and the area of the brain and auditory system where sound is processed and assigned meaning. While there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are several options for management with the help of a professional.
Audiologists with experience in diagnosing and treating tinnitus are the best professionals to work with for tinnitus management. A thorough case history, tinnitus questionnaires and a diagnostic hearing evaluation will help the audiologist determine the specific cause of an individual's tinnitus and develop a treatment & management program. Tinnitus management programs include a combination of counseling and sound therapy with a goal of achieving immediate relief, as well as promoting long-term habituation. Many devices are available today that offer sound therapy, amplification or a combination of the two for tinnitus management. Studies show that up to 90% of patients with tinnitus may benefit from amplification (Johnson, 1998; Schechter et al., 2002) so combination hearing aid / sound therapy devices are a valuable tool for tinnitus treatment and hearing loss rehabilitation.

Because individuals are more aware of tinnitus in quiet environments, a person's ability to fall asleep or stay asleep can also be affected. The audiologist may recommend specific sound machines, apps for smart phones or other devices, (such as pillow speakers) that help in masking a patient's tinnitus to promote better sleep. 
Tinnitus that goes untreated can also lead to anxiety, depression and hopelessness. More than two million people are diagnosed as having debilitating tinnitus, affecting overall quality of life. Audiologists can train and counsel patients how to use techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and meditation to assist in reducing anxiety and stress. If a person's tinnitus is considered "severe" the audiologist may recommend seeking treatment from a trained counselor or therapist, including cognitive behavioral therapy.
If you or a loved one is experiencing tinnitus, contact Advanced Audiology of Greater Omaha at (402) 758-5327 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sam Gillespie. 


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