Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Tinnitus
Updated: Aug 26
What is tinnitus?
The presence of sound that’s not there in your external environment. The brain creates this sound, not the outside world, whether that is a ringing, buzzing, chirping, cicadas, etc…
What causes tinnitus?
Stress, anxiety, health issues, exposure to noise, over 250 ototoxic medications variety of catalyst, wax in the ears, but we know the pathway in the brain it is taking and how to treat it… COVID stress.
Is there an age range tinnitus impacts?
It can happen at any age. Noise exposure from concerts of someone in their 20s to ages 50+ from factory & farm equipment. Tinnitus does not discriminate. I actually developed tinnitus during my pregnancies.
I have treated patients as young as teenagers up to age 90. Average patient age in our office
is 40’s and 50’s…
Why are people are told there is no treatment for tinnitus?
Just not true with today’s recent studies. There is something we can do. Due to the fact treatment is not a surgery or medication it can be hard to believe there is something else that helps…. This is why we named our practice Hope Hearing - there is hope and relief out there.
How do you perform therapy at Hope Hearing?
Our therapy is research based and customized to each individual. We address the issue that tinnitus goes beyond the auditory system. We have diagnosed the areas of the brain that tinnitus impacts and we use sound therapy to reroute that neural cycle and retrain the brain to have lessened or no tinnitus. We don't just stick a hearing device on people because you don't have to have a hearing loss to have tinnitus.
How many people experiences tinnitus?
It's estimated that at least 50 million American adults experience tinnitus. 1 out of 5 people.
Why do people experience tinnitus?
A wide variety of things can cause tinnitus: exposure to loud sounds, over 250 ototoxic medications, stressful events (ex: loss of a loved one), temporary blockage of sound from a sinus infection or cold.
Can you help those that have had tinnitus for a long time?
Absolutely, but the sooner you address it, the better. We treat those that experienced tinnitus for weeks up to year and decades.
Some people have come in thinking everyone has tinnitus because they’ve had it for a long as they can remember.
Tinnitus is a neural cycle in the brain and it tends to embed itself deeper the more the cycle continues, so the sooner you address it the better…
How do you know if you have tinnitus?
If you’re wondering how to know if you have tinnitus, start by evaluating your symptoms.
First, do you often hear a sound that you know is not externally present?
If so, what is this sound like?
Would you describe it as:
Or perhaps it sounds like a heartbeat in your ear?
Does it have to be in both ears?
The noise may seem to come from one ear, both ears, your head, or a distance. In addition, it can be steady, intermittent, or pulsating, toward the back of your head.
Do you have to have hearing loss to have tinnitus?
No you don’t. You can have completely normal hearing and still have tinnitus. Often it can be associated with hearing loss due to noise exposure, but there are a lot of catalysts.
We can treat hearing loss as well at our office. You don’t have to have tinnitus and hearing loss. They can be two separate issues.
Why are people told there is no treatment for tinnitus?
If it is not medication or surgery, often people think nothing can be done.
What we base our therapy on was done over 10 years with 1,000 tinnitus patients. Long term good benefit is there.
Just not true with today’s recent studies. There is something we can do. Due to the fact treatment is not a surgery or medication, it can be hard to believe there is something else that helps…. This is why we are named Hope Hearing, there is hope and relief out there.
What steps should someone take to treat tinnitus?
First calling our office and coning in for an evaluation. There, we will do a thorough case history and evaluation of the auditory system to find out what’s going on. I could be something as simple as wax or fluid in the ear, but you will never know until we see you.
What we do is research based and customized to each individual. We address the issue that tinnitus goes beyond the auditory system. We have diagnosed the areas of the brain that tinnitus impacts and we use sound therapy to reroute that neural cycle and retrain the brain to have lessened or no tinnitus. We do not just stick a hearing device on people because you do not have to have a hearing loss to have tinnitus.
How do you follow-up with your patient’s to ensure success?
We keep follow-up appointments to every 3-4 months max and really make sure patients are staying within the guidelines of therapy.
The staff at Hope Hearing work together as a team to make sure everyone is properly taken care of as soon as they make their first phone call.
The staff is a lot like family, and patients become like that too. We really want to help improve their quality of life.
Do you just treat tinnitus at your office?
Hyperacusis/sensitivity to sound can accompany tinnitus, our therapy addresses that sensitivity. Tinnitus is similar to inflammation of the auditory system, so a lot of times when you throw another loud sound on there, it’s worse!
We can also address just typical hearing loss with no tinnitus. Being able to hear loved ones, friends and family is such an important part of everyday life.
Is tinnitus constant or can it be intermittent?
It can be associated with a temporary blockage of sound from a cold or sinus infection. Once the cold is gone the tinnitus will go away if temporary.
Side effect of a loud concert can cause tinnitus for 24-48 hours, which is called a temporary threshold shift.
We treat tinnitus that is chronic or persistent.
When would you hear tinnitus?
You can hear tinnitus at any time, but it is most often heard in quieter environments with no background noise. When I had tinnitus, I would hear it in louder environments, but it was most obvious in quieter places. It is only heard by the person who has tinnitus. This is called subjective tinnitus. There is such a thing as objective tinnitus. This is when someone else can hear the tinnitus too, but this is extremely rare. Normally heard by a specialist with a stethoscope.
How does tinnitus impact everyday life?
It can have a huge impact on people’s relationships. It can make an easy dinner conversation, group party or grandchildren all very difficult for someone to hear and understand. We'd all love the ability to hear spouses, loved ones, family members and friends.
Can tinnitus impact healthy sleep?
Most definitely! It can affect one's ability to go to sleep or stay asleep due to that annoying sound, and because of that, their quality of sleep is affected.
Can tinnitus impact mental health?
Tinnitus often impacts hearing, one's ability to communicate. Whether it is conscious or subconscious, you are always tuning it out, so it can impact people a lot more than what they realize.
People with tinnitus can find themselves more irritable, anxious, moody and can have trouble relaxing. Long term tinnitus can also cause depression. People feel like they don’t have any downtime or enjoyment of peace and quiet, which is important to reset.
Are there any illnesses associated with tinnitus?
Diabetes, high blood pressure, head and neck injuries, otosclerosis (which is the hardening on the bones in the middle ear), TMJ/neck or jaw issues, allergies or Meinere’s Disease. Hearing loss is very common with tinnitus too, but you do not have to have hearing loss to experience tinnitus.
Hyperacusis can develop from tinnitus, which is a sensitivity to sound. Since the auditory system is already inflamed, this can just exacerbate it with more sound.
We can treat hyperacusis with the same thing we do for tinnitus. We can treat both. A lot of times people with tinnitus will notice a sensitivity to sounds that used to be more comfortable. Simple things like a hammer on a nail become extra sensitive.
What makes tinnitus worse?
250 ototoxic medications
Can I do anything to improve tinnitus symptoms naturally?
Research has looked at everything from masking, liboflabinoid/tinnitus pills, acupuncture, chiropractic, none of these things go to the source. What really works is tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) through low level sounds.
It truly addresses that tinnitus is a brain generated sound and re-routes the misfiring of the auditory signal to something that ignored.
Some studies show that cutting things like salt, caffeine and alcohol can improve your symptoms, but you can eliminate those things and still experience it.