Several months ago, I had a patient at my office, and I was asked how do you attack tinnitus? Tinnitus is defined as a variety of different noises that are heard inside your head. It may be a ringing, roaring, rushing, chirping, clicking, and even music or voices. It can be minimal, or it can drive you nuts. It may be intermittent or constant and keeps you from sleeping at night. It may vary in strength at different types of the day. It is usually most annoying when your environment is quiet. Caffeine and stress can kick it into high gear!
This patient used the terminology "attack tinnitus" because he felt like it was ruining his life. He has the sound of a shop vac running at about 90dB in his left ear and a microwave beep at 70dB every 20 seconds in the right ear. He hadn't slept more than a couple of hours at a time in 3 years. He was exhausted. He had very little hearing loss. When he got to us, he was hoping for a way to attack it, destroy it, much like he felt it was doing to him.
The first thing that is done is a complete audiometric workup, audiometric testing, video otoscopy, tympanometry, tone decay testing, and tinnitus evaluation and consultation. It must be determined first and foremost if there is a need for medical referral. Is the tinnitus single-sided or bilateral?
When did it start? There is a deep list of questions. After the hearing examination, we then need to determine the type of head noise that the patient is hearing. During this portion of the exam, we provide different stimulus until we can narrow down the frequency/pitch or sound that is like what the patient is hearing. Now that we have narrowed down the type of sound, now we must determine how loud it seems to the patient. Once the above has taken place we move on to the "Attack Mode"!
Often, depending upon the severity of the hearing loss and the length of time a person has had the hearing loss, putting hearing instruments on and providing stimulus to hearing nerves may give some relief. It may not. An important factor is that if the tinnitus is an 8k (8,000 Hertz) then for a hearing instrument to help it must be able to have a broad frequency band that includes 8K in the programming parameters.
So, once we have all the above information, we proceed with tinnitus sound therapy. I tell everyone, “There is no guarantee, and we can't be sure until we try to fix it." During this same appointment, the patient is then fit with Starkey Technologies patented and integrated “Multiflex Tinnitus Therapy system. That is where the fun begins. First, we determine if the simple fix of the hearing loss is the key or do, we need tinnitus therapy. Different types and frequencies of sounds are introduced through the instruments. The goal is to train the brain to ignore and listen to the environment. To work the damaged nerves in a soft constant manner. This appointment is usually a 2–3-hour session. It is just a starting point. It is a journey that we take with the patient. Our patient with the Shop-Vac and microwave... the microwave beep is gone, and the shop vac is at about 15dB instead of 90dB. He now sleeps almost 6 straight hours without his tinnitus therapy devices on. Starkey Hearing Technologies Along without office (Lampe & Kiefer Hearing Center, Inc.) has been providing masking technologies since the 1980s and delivers tinnitus relief at several levels of technology. If you have tinnitus, your first step is a hearing examination. Don’t let it control you. Let’s investigate and see what it will take to give you some relief! To Hear Better Is To Live Better! Call today: (863) 385-3497