Tinnitus is the experience of perceiving sound that is not produced by a source outside of the body. The “phantom” auditory perception is generated somewhere in the auditory pathways or in the head or neck.
Tinnitus is one of the most frequent complaints in hearing healthcare. In the Veterans Affairs hospital system, tinnitus is the #1 service-connected medical disability. Tinnitus is rated from mild to profound, and can affect life in varied ways. Common complaints range from the inability to enjoy a moment of silence, to inability concentrate or sleep. This auditory perception is often described as whooshing, buzzing or ringing, but is unique to each person in both the quality of sound and degree of impact.
Hearing loss and tinnitus often coincide, but many who have normal hearing sensitivity or subclinical hearing loss experience bothersome tinnitus that requires treatment. Evergreen Audiology specializes in diagnosis and treatment of bothersome tinnitus, whether or not it is combined with hearing loss.
Causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus can be caused by one or several underlying conditions, and has many risk factors:
Treatment of tinnitus
Dr. Chris Lawson of Evergreen Audiology has extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of tinnitus, particularly in a military environment. Dr. Lawson completed his Au.D. in the U.S. Army as an active duty audiologist stationed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland. As Army Hearing Program Manager at Fort Campbell, KY, he was responsible for the hearing health and screening for 28,000 military members and families.
Hearing aids are one of the most commonly recommended treatments for tinnitus. These devices can be equipped with tinnitus-masking features to help block out the noise experienced during day-to-day activities.
Tinnitus is often masked by using ambient noise in the listener’s environment. The type of background noise that’s most effective varies from person to person. Evergreen Audiology utilizes the Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM) principles designed by the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) and is used routinely with patients at Walter Reed. The focus of PTM is to teach patients how to manage their reactions to tinnitus, which can make a meaningful difference in quality of life. In this case, “reactions” pertains to any negative effects of tinnitus on quality of life, such as sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties, or any negative emotions that are associated with tinnitus. By learning to self-manage their reactions to tinnitus, individuals are empowered by gaining the ability to know how to address any situation in which their tinnitus is bothersome or intrusive.
As each experience of hearing loss and tinnitus is unique, treatment must be tailored to each individual. Call Evergreen Audiology today to begin designing your treatment plan.
Click here to be directed to the Tinnitus Functional Index, a scientifically derived questionnaire to quantify the impact of tinnitus on quality of life. This information is very helpful to have completed prior to your consultation appointment.