Tinnitus management

02 February 2018

Tinnitus is a sound that you can hear but others can’t. Anyone who has been to a concert will have experienced ringing in the ears for a couple of hours afterwards, but 10% of people have tinnitus permanently. It can be caused by damage to the inner ear through noise exposure. Lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin, suffered with tinnitus for 10 years, and now wears earplugs while performing. Certain drugs - aspirin and some antibiotics, such as aminoglycosides - can cause tinnitus if taken on a regular basis. Excess alcohol can also be the culprit.

What often happens when patients tell someone they have tinnitus?

Often patients are told that nothing can be done about their tinnitus. Such negative statements are not only unhelpful but it also may increase their focus on the tinnitus and exacerbate their distress, making it harder for them to deal with or seek help. Although there is no instant ‘cure’ to make tinnitus go away, there are a few management/treatment options that can often help to reduce the effects of tinnitus.

A few simple things to understand

Firstly, to help someone habituate to their tinnitus, we teach them what it is so that we can break the cycle to manage their tinnitus.

  • Tinnitus can fluctuate, often the more stressed the louder the tinnitus, or the quieter the environment the louder the tinnitus
  • For some people certain noises or situations, even foods can increase the tinnitus
  • Others notice that their tinnitus fluctuates with their health so that if their health is worse the tinnitus is often louder (it is a very similar pathway in the brain to that used to register pain). This may be due to not feeling well and having less ability to cope with the tinnitus. Or as with a cold because your head is blocked, so you hear internal sounds louder
  • Or it may be somatosensory too, that means that the tinnitus can be affected by movements of the head and neck, this can be related to arthritis in the head and neck or it can be caused by jaw problems too

Tinnitus management/therapy has been around now for 20 years or more now. It uses a very similar approach to chronic pain management, as both use the same information pathways in the brain. There is a good amount of research in both fields to show that this process is effective.

If you or a family member suffer with tinnitus you may wish to seek advice from our clinical audiologist, Mr Prince Punnoose. For more information or to book an appointment please complete our online form or contact us on 01293 778906.

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