Physician Partner Resources
Useful Information About Tinnitus
An estimate of statistics regarding Tinnitus puts the number of Canadians suffering from such “ringing in the ears” at about 10-15% of the population; of those, about 20% seek out help from a medical professional. That’s about 600,000 people. In your practice, you may notice more women than men reporting tinnitus, since—under age 50—it tends to show up more among women. After 50, however, the man/woman split begins to even out.
Tinnitus is uniquely frustrating, in that people are convinced they are hearing something when there is clearly no noise source nearby; that’s why we classify it as a “phantom auditory perception.” Current research suggests that tinnitus is actually cause by a “locking” of nerve impulses in the cochlea and brain stem. Everyone has spontaneous nerve impulses, but this locking –or persistent automatic firing—of nerve impulses leads to a sense of constant phantom sound.
The world of tinnitus management has come a long way over the years. By referring tinnitus patients to a certified hearing professional, you can be assured that they will be evaluated thoroughly and treated for their unique tinnitus experiences—using both counseling and auditory retraining.
Auditory retraining fights phantom sound with actual sound. The patient is given a sound-generating device that is set at just below the level of the tinnitus. It doesn’t thoroughly mask the sound; the tinnitus, in a way, rides just on top of it. Over time, the tinnitus becomes less and less of a disturbance. This kind of retraining can also be useful or patients who are hyper-sensitive to sound.
Other treatments include the total masking of the tinnitus sound, as well as an interesting new treatment called Tinnitus Notch Therapy, in which a patient listens every day to music or white noise from which the frequency of the patient’s tinnitus has been removed. Proponents of the therapy actually lessens the perceived volume of the tinnitus and perhaps even eliminate the tinnitus.
Once upon a time, healthcare professional had to tell tinnitus sufferers that their only option was “learning to live with it.” Not anymore. By referring patients to a certified professional audiologist, you’ll be opening them up to a whole new world of knowledge about tinnitus.