Treatment options for alleviating tinnitus
RAPID CITY — Persistent tinnitus affects nearly 25,000 Americans, found most often in those with some form of hearing loss. Everything from prescription medications to vascular diseases to normal hearing loss from age has been linked to tinnitus, and it is one of the most common service-related disabilities among veterans.
“Tinnitus is one of the most common complaints hearing patients have, just because it can be so hard to pinpoint,” says Cassandra Garver, owner of Lifetime Hearing Solutions.
One of the reasons tinnitus is so difficult to treat is because every person experiences tinnitus differently. Descriptions range from clicks, pulses, hums, and ringing, and can be nearly constant or extremely infrequent with no obvious pattern. Diagnosing tinnitus is usually very quick once a doctor hears a patient’s symptoms, but finding the underlying cause is often a much more difficult task.
To identify the cause of a person’s tinnitus, a doctor may run a wide variety of tests beyond a simple hearing exam, such as medical imaging and lab tests. Ear and sinus infections, heart conditions, neurological disorders, hormone changes, and anemia are all common causes for tinnitus, and each case has different options for treatment.
Medication changes can sometimes result in tinnitus – over 200 drugs have been shown to cause tinnitus in some when some they start or stop taking them. Doctors may be able to recommend changes in medications to alleviate drug-related tinnitus. Even cutting back on caffeine may be the solution if the resulting high blood pressure is triggering tinnitus.
If a person’s tinnitus is a result of hearing loss, using hearing aids and sound therapy can be the most effective treatment. “When someone who has tinnitus decides to buy hearing aids,” Garver says, “they’re suddenly hearing so much and don’t hear the tinnitus as much because they have so much more to focus on.”
All the hearing aids Garver works with have an option to provide a form of sound therapy as well. Sound therapy in hearing aids provide another sound like white noise or ocean waves to focus on, lessening the intrusive effects of tinnitus.
“I would say 65-70% of people find relief from tinnitus once they start wearing hearing aids if hearing loss is the main reason for the tinnitus,” Garver says.
To learn more about hearing aids, contact Lifetime Hearing Solutions by calling 605-342-1619