What treatments are available for Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is an auditory condition in which there is the perception of sounds or noise within the ears or head when there is no external sound source. Common descriptions of perceived tinnitus include buzzing, ringing, humming or music. The British Society of Audiology estimates that 1 in 10 people in the UK lives with persistent tinnitus.
Tinnitus can affect people in different ways. There are 4 forms of tinnitus:
- Subjective tinnitus – the most common form of tinnitus whereby only the individual themselves can hear the sound.
- Sensory tinnitus – a form of subjective tinnitus associated with disorders of the auditory system such as Meniere’s disease.
- Somatic tinnitus – this is tinnitus related to the musculoskeletal system primarily the neck or jaw.
- Objective tinnitus – a rare form of tinnitus in which the individual and others can hear the sound.
In order to treat any auditory conditions, we recommend booking a consultation with a qualified Audiologist and discussing your concerns with them. They can then complete an appropriate audiological assessment.
Currently, there is no known cure for tinnitus, however, the following methods can help to manage the condition:
A tinnitus masker is an electronic device that outputs low-level noise to overshadow the perceived sounds of the tinnitus. Outputting a sound like white noise can draw your attention away from the tinnitus. Physical tinnitus maskers are available but as technology has developed, this feature can be digitally incorporated into modern hearing aids.
Both Widex & Unitron incorporate tinnitus masking features in certain models of their hearing aids, and these features can be controlled by a smartphone app. In some cases, our patients have reported a noticeable difference in their hearing experience when using the masking feature on their hearing aids.
As hearing loss can be a contributing factor to tinnitus, using a hearing aid to amplify specific sounds can result in the positive management of tinnitus. By amplifying natural environmental sounds, a hearing aid can make the unpleasant ringing or buzzing of tinnitus less prominent. As previously mentioned, several of our hearing aid models incorporate technology to help relieve symptoms of tinnitus.
Over the past number of years, hearing aid manufacturers have developed smartphone apps to help patients with everyday relief. Widex has developed the Widex Zen app available for both iPhone & Android devices. Zen Sounds provide a relaxing background sound for those who suffer from tinnitus and this can reduce the perceived sounds of the tinnitus as well as reducing the stress that can be caused as a result of having tinnitus.
Ear wax removal
Obstructions in the ear canal can cause some level of hearing loss which can contribute to tinnitus. Over time, compacted ear wax can cause sound waves to be obstructed. One treatment for this issue is to remove the ear wax by microsuction. An Audiologist can advise if this treatment is suitable.
We always recommend speaking to an Audiologist if you are concerned with your hearing. Our Audiologists provide a comprehensive examination of both ears combined with a full pure-tone hearing assessment, free of charge. Once the consultation is complete our Audiologists can provide you with advice on how best to treat your tinnitus, refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant if required, or recommend if you are a suitable candidate for hearing aids.