Types of tinnitus:

  1. Subjective transient tinnitus: This type of tinnitus is the most common form. Subjective tinnitus symptoms can only be heard by the affected individual and is usually caused by exposure to excessive noise. This type can also appear and disappear suddenly and may last 3-12 months at a time. In severe cases, it may never stop.
  2. Neurological tinnitus: Typically caused by an abnormality on the auditory acoustic nerve or neural pathway along the brainstem, where the brain responds to an unusual electrical auditory stimulus which is then perceived as tinnitus.
  3. Somatic tinnitus: Related to many unknown biological factors that may either trigger or modulate how tinnitus sounds. For example, medications or diet changes.
  4. Objective tinnitus: A rare form of tinnitus where tinnitus is objectively heard by individuals other than the one suffering from it. This is the only form of tinnitus that can be measured by an outside observer and the only type that has potential for a permanent fix.

What causes tinnitus?

Typically, the cause of tinnitus is uncertain. If there is no damage to the auditory system, your provider will suggest further follow-up on these other possible causes:

  • Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Chronic neck muscle strain
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Wax buildup
  • Certain medications
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • A benign tumor that creates strain on the arteries in the head and neck

Many times, people ask, "Is there a permanent fix for my tinnitus?" and the answer is no. It cannot be cured; however, it can be managed. The approach taken to manage a person's tinnitus depends on the underlying condition responsible for the humming, buzzing, and/or ringing in your ears. Sometimes, a simple fix is removing wax build up in the ear. Other times may require adjustments to certain medications.

Solution One: Hearing instruments

Hearing instruments are used as a means of tinnitus treatment as the amplification of sounds in the environment will sometimes reduce a patient's awareness of their tinnitus. They also decrease the loudness of the tinnitus by masking the pitch with other sounds to make it tolerable for the patient.

Solution Two: Tinnitus Sound Generator (TSG)

This form utilizes "sound therapy". The sound generator helps reduce the perceived strength of the tinnitus by introducing background noise that partially covers the tinnitus signal. The goal is to make it more difficult for the brain to detect the tinnitus. Ultimately, over time less importance and priority are assigned by the brain to the tinnitus and relief is then achieved. Studies show that it can take 3-12 months for complete habituation to occur and maximum benefit to be reached.

This is the preferred strategy for patients with mild to moderately disturbing tinnitus and little to no hearing loss

Solution Three: Neuromonics

Neuromonics is an individualized style of tinnitus treatment which is based on neural stimulations to the cochlea where tinnitus is thought to be originating from. The treatment requires following specific guidelines and treatment typically lasts about six months.

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What is tinnitus?

Simply put, tinnitus is the perception of sounds, often described as ringing, buzzing, roaring, whooshing, or humming in the ears that are not present in the external environment. This is a widespread condition that affects millions of people. Most patients with tinnitus symptoms may have an associated hearing loss or underlying condition rather than just tinnitus itself. Symptoms of tinnitus can be sporadic or constant in which a person must adjust too. However, in extreme cases, tinnitus can disrupt daily activities such as working, reading, sleeping, and more.

The term tinnitus does not refer to a single disorder, but rather describes a collection of symptoms that may have several different causes. Each person's tinnitus experience is unique and very real.