More than 36 million people of America
Americaare affected by Tinnitus. A medical condition arising from dysfunction in the auditory system, tinnitus is characterized by persistent ringing, roaring, and/or clicking noises that rarely subside. If you have tinnitus, it can make you feel like you’re going crazy. But you don’t have to suffer – tinnitus is treatable.
Before you can treat tinnitus, it’s important to know what causes it. The short answer: a variety of things. Tinnitus can be caused by something as simple as wax buildup on the eardrum, or something more serious like a tumor on the hearing nerve. Various ear diseases are associated with tinnitus, as are effects from drug or alcohol abuse.
But most often it’s repeated exposure to loud noises like gunfire, rock concerts, and chain saws that cause tinnitus. So it makes sense that one of the best ways to prevent tinnitus is to protect and preserve your hearing, whose complex mechanism turns sound waves into meaningful information your brain can process and identify.
Sound waves enter the ear canal and vibrate the ear drum. This causes the middle ear mechanism (ossicles) to vibrate, sending the sound waves on to the inner ear and brain. Here they are turned into data your brain recognizes as sounds. Soft sounds like whispers don’t cause any harm, but loud sounds like airplane jets cause discomfort and, after repeated exposure, hearing damage such a tinnitus.
Tinnitus management Now that you know what causes tinnitus, how can you treat it? In the absence of an established cure, treatment programs should include not only adjusting to the sensation of constant noise, but also learning to live with the numerous negative consequences that may be associated with the problem.
Research has emerged suggesting tinnitus is both an audiological and psychological phenomenon, activating three areas of the brain: 1) Central auditory nervous system, which determines which sounds you pay attention to, 2) Limbic system, which is responsible for emotions and some memory processes, and 3) Autonomic nervous system, which manages the stress and relaxation responses.
Many tinnitus sufferers experience considerable emotional distress and display thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that are similar to those in patients with depression, anger, and anxiety. Research consistently shows that cognitive-behavioral therapy, a well-respected form of psychotherapy, can be useful in managing the emotional, thought, and behavioral difficulties of people with tinnitus.
Accordingly, tinnitus treatment may involve one or more of the following: 1) Acoustic therapy using masking devices 2) Intensive tinnitus retraining therapy 3) Behavioral and lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise 4) Electrical stimulation similar to acupuncture 5) Pharmacologic interventions including medication, vitamins, and minerals such as Melatonin
1) Acoustic therapy using masking devices
2) Intensive tinnitus retraining therapy
3) Behavioral and lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise
4) Electrical stimulation similar to acupuncture
5) Pharmacologic interventions including medication, vitamins, and minerals such as Melatonin6) Psychotherapy including cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation training, biofeedback, and stress management
Psychologists helping tinnitus sufferers assists patients in “retraining their brain” so they can deal with tinnitus and minimize the difficulties it creates in their lives. While working with a psychologist, patients can learn new ways to live with tinnitus, manage stress, and improve the quality of their life. Patients will become aware of how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact with their bodies and develop healthier ways to cope with tinnitus – and all aspects of life.
So what can you expect during a tinnitus psychological consultation? Your first meeting will last for about one hour, during which you may complete a health questionnaire. The purpose of this interview is to gain an in-depth understanding of your specific tinnitus issues and the impact they have on your life. The questionnaire is useful in providing additional information about your lifestyle and your unique experience with tinnitus.
By obtaining a thorough and complete picture of your tinnitus experience, your psychologist can work with your physician to ensure that your treatment plan is as effective as possible. Also, he or she can gain insight into how psychotherapy might be helpful in reducing and/or eliminating your symptoms, as well as decreasing the negative impact they have on your life. Your Physician and psychologist can discuss with you the potential effects and benefits of adjunctive treatment methods.