Many people in Encino woke up on New Year’s Day with a ringing in their ears. For some, it was the aftereffects of a night spent partying; a few hours after the ball dropped, the ringing disappeared, and their hearing returned to normal. For others, the noise is more persistent and becomes a constant background distraction. Approximately 50 million people in California and across the country experience tinnitus. If you’re one of them, you don’t have to suffer in silence; resolve instead to seek treatment in the new year.
What, Exactly, is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is any noise in your ears or head that occurs without an external sound source. It is usually described as a ringing in the ears but can take many forms, including roaring, whistling, clicking, whooshing, humming or buzzing. If a sound ends in “ing” it’s probably been observed by somebody with tinnitus!
Many people think of tinnitus as a condition, but it’s actually a symptom of another underlying medical problem. It may be caused by aging, noise exposure, infection, allergies, earwax, drugs, foreign objects in the ears and more. Often, the exact cause is never determined.
Most cases of tinnitus are subjective; that is, only the person experiencing the noise can hear it. Once in a great while, another person – typically a doctor or spouse – is also able to hear the ringing or other noise. This is known as objective tinnitus and is extremely rare.
How Can I Reduce Tinnitus Symptoms in 2019?
First, let’s get the bad news out of the way: there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are plenty of treatment options designed to reduce its impact on your daily life. Plenty of people just like you have found relief from their tinnitus symptoms by adopting one or more of the following strategies:
- Masking. This has nothing to do with Halloween. Masking, or noise suppression, techniques are designed to draw the brain’s attention away from the underlying tinnitus. White noise therapy is most popular; you can try a white noise machine, available in many stores in Encino, or use a fan or air-conditioner to achieve the same effect.
- Counseling. Your Encino audiologist can provide counseling and coping strategies to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your sleep, which can help reduce the negative effects of tinnitus.
- Steroid Injections. Meniere’s disease is a balance disorder that often causes side effects such as tinnitus. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, injections of a steroid called Dexamethasone may bring relief.
- Surgery. Tinnitus caused by a type of benign tumor called an acoustic neuroma will often cease with surgical removal of the tumor.
- Hearing aids. Tinnitus sufferers with hearing aids can turn up the volume on their devices in order to increase background sounds, effectively masking their tinnitus. Hearing aids also help you distinguish one sound from another, improving communication, focus and concentration. Many hearing aids include features such as noise generators that utilize ambient sounds.
If you’ve been putting up with tinnitus for a while, make a point to talk to your Encino audiologist this year. He or she can help make 2019 less stressful!