Category Archives: Tinnitus

The Basics of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

It’s been projected that 50 million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus sufferers hear constant sounds in their heads that others can’t hear such as clicking, buzzing, ringing, humming or whistling. Tinnitus is commonly known by its slang name – ringing-in-the-ears. In some cases, the tinnitus is a small annoyance, while in severe cases it is horribly debilitating. Steady tinnitus often leads to other ailments such as anxiety, sleeping disorders, fatigue, and depression.

Although there are technological treatments for tinnitus, such as hearing aids that mask and suppress the buzzing or ringing sounds, there is also a form of counseling known as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. The concept behind TRT is to retrain the brain to reduce sensitivity to the tinnitus noises. The idea is to lower the perceptions of the sounds and reduce negative reactions to the sounds.

Created by Austrian neuroscientist Pawel Jastreboff in the 1980s, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a radically different approach to tinnitus treatment. It challenges the assumption among most audiologists that tinnitus is the result of physical ear damage which cannot be reversed. While damage to the ears – for example, exposure to loud noises for long periods of time – is often a cause of tinnitus, Jastreboff drew upon his training in neuroscience to propose an alternative behavioral neuro-physical model that explained the condition. This allowed him to disregard previous notions that the condition couldn’t be fixed, and focus his attention on developing behavioral modification techniques that could, indeed, fix it.

The basic assumption of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is that the tinnitus is not a disease per se, but a reflection of hyperacusis – a person’s innate ability to hear normal sounds generated by the auditory system that others cannot hear. Jastreboff reasons that the true problem for tinnitus sufferers is the over-reaction and hyper-sensitivity to the ringing or buzzing sounds, not the sounds themselves. During TRT counseling sessions – performed only by those who have been trained in the technique – a precise and individual combination of teaching and sound therapy are used to enable tinnitus sufferers to use their own cognitive functions to shut down their over reactions to the disturbing sounds, and focus more on the desirable sounds they want to hear.

Over the years, TRT counselors have had success with helping people to overcome their conditioned negative responses to the sounds they hear, and thus eliminate the distress they feel at hearing them.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Greatly Affecting Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

Approximately 20 percent of all Americans have experienced some form of hearing loss, however, there is one portion of the population in which that percentage is substantially higher – veterans, particularly those who have served in war zones. Hearing loss and tinnitus have become the most frequent service-related disabilities among military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the over 800,000 veterans who received disability benefits that year, 148,000 (18.5%) received them for tinnitus or hearing loss; by comparison, the number receiving compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 42,700 (5.3%).

This is a widespread public health problem that will only get worse in the future, as these veterans’ noise-induced hearing loss is compounded by aging. As a condition, tinnitus is disturbing in itself as a result of the ringing or buzzing sounds one hears constantly, but tinnitus also often causes disturbing side effects such as mood changes, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nausea, vision changes, and depression. But tinnitus is only part of the problem, because many veterans have experienced more profound hearing loss or deafness.

According to Brett Buchanan, a VA-accredited insurance claims agent who has made a study of hearing loss in veterans, “The military, in general, is just a high noise-producing environment.” For example, he describes the working and living conditions below deck on most Naval ships at filled with “the constant drumming of engines and metal-on-metal noise.” Soldiers in the Army and Marines may spend substantial portions of their day in or around noisy tanks and transport carriers. Of course, in a war zone this background noise is often punctuated by the sounds of gunfire and explosions, creating pretty much an ideal environment for creating hearing loss. Many efforts are made to reduce the risk and exposure. The US military provides hearing protection and noise-reducing ear plugs. And while these earplugs may help while soldiers are practicing on the target range, during an actual fire fight, with bullets flying by and IEDs or mortars exploding all around you, a soldier’s first thought is not, “Wait. Time out. I’ve got to put in my earplugs.”

The military is doing what it can to increase the use of hearing protection by providing more sensitive earplugs that block loud noises but allow soldiers to hear even the faintest normal conversations. Meanwhile, the VA has become the largest single consumer of hearing aids in the U.S., providing them to veterans who need them at little or no cost. If you are (or know) a veteran who has suffered hearing loss, encourage them to get tested. Our expert staff would be happy to determine the extent of the loss, recommend solutions and help you navigate the VA benefits system.

What Can We Do about the Rates of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans?

Approximately 20% of all Americans have some form of hearing loss, but there is one particular segment of the population in which that percentage is notably larger – veterans, particularly those who’ve served in foreign combat zones. Hearing loss and tinnitus are now the most common service-related disabilities among military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the over 800,000 veterans who received disability benefits that year, 148,000 (18.5%) received them for tinnitus or hearing loss; by comparison, the number receiving compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 42,700 (5.3%).

This is a widespread public health problem that will only get worse in the future, as these veterans’ noise-induced hearing loss is compounded by aging. The tinnitus component is often worse because of the side effects. The constant ringing in the ears is know to lead to headaches, mood changes, anxiety, insomnia, vision changes and depression. But tinnitus is only part of the problem, because many veterans have experienced more profound hearing loss or deafness.

The reason that there is so much hearing loss in the military, according to VA-accredited claims agent Brett Buchanan, is that “The military, in general, is just a high noise-producing environment.” For example, he describes the working and living conditions below deck on most Naval ships at filled with “the constant drumming of engines and metal-on-metal noise.” And in other branches of service such as the Army or Marines, solders often spend much of their time around or inside of incredibly noisy vehicles such as transport carriers or tanks. Now add to the ever-present high volumes of background noise the intermittent sounds of gunfire and explosions, and you have a recipe for hearing loss.

To their credit, the military does what it can to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, providing soldiers with earplugs and other forms of hearing protection. But, while these are fine on the target range while practicing, when bullets are actually blazing by and IEDs or mortars are exploding around them, no one stops to put in their earplugs.

Some of the problem may be solved in the future by providing more sensitive earplugs to soldiers that selectively block out loud sounds such as explosions or guns firing, but allow soldiers to hear even whispered commands. While better solutions are in the works, the Veteran’s Administration has become the largest buyer of hearing aids in the US. Hearing aids are provided at little or no cost to veterans who need them. So for veterans who are reading this and who may have experienced some form of hearing loss, please get in touch with us. Allow our trained professionals to help diagnose the nature of your hearing problems, recommend the best solutions to those problems, and help you work with the VA to obtain an effective hearing aid.

Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Suffer from Hearing Loss in Record Numbers

An estimated 20% of all Americans have experienced some level of hearing loss, however, there is one portion of the population in which that number is substantially larger – veterans, especially those who’ve served in foreign war zones. Among soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the most widespread service-related disabilities are hearing loss and tinnitus.In 2011, the number of veterans receiving disability benefits as a result of hearing loss or tinnitus (148,000) was more than triple the number of veterans receiving benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (42,700). This adds up to a severe public health concern that is expected to worsen. As these veterans get older, normal age-related hearing loss will be compounded on top of their noise-induced hearing loss. As a condition, tinnitus is disturbing in itself as a result of the ringing or buzzing sounds one hears constantly, but tinnitus also often causes disturbing side effects such as mood changes, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nausea, vision changes, and depression. But tinnitus is only part of the problem, because many veterans have experienced more profound hearing loss or deafness.

According to Brett Buchanan, a VA-accredited insurance claims agent who has made a study of hearing loss in veterans, “The military, in general, is just a high noise-producing environment.” In the Navy, most sailors work below decks in high-noise environments, filled with “the constant drumming of engines and metal-on-metal noise.” Soldiers in the Army and Marines may spend substantial portions of their day in or around noisy tanks and transport carriers. In a war zone, these become background noise with gunfire and explosions layered on as the foreground. Taken together you have ideal conditions for hearing problems. The U.S. military, to its credit, tries to do what it can to prevent hearing loss by providing soldiers with hearing protection in the form of noise-reducing earplugs. These safety measures are used consistently in training, but are a secondary concern in actual battle. When faced with bullets flying, IEDs and mortars exploding, the soldier isn’t going to turn back for ear plugs. It is worth noting that a soldier wearing ear plugs may not be able to hear whispered instructions or may miss clues about the enemies whereabouts.

The military is doing what it can to increase the use of hearing protection by providing more sensitive earplugs that block loud noises but allow soldiers to hear even the faintest normal conversations. Meanwhile, the VA has become the largest single consumer of hearing aids in the U.S., providing them to veterans who need them at little or no cost. So for veterans who are reading this and who may have experienced some form of hearing loss, please get in touch with us. Allow our trained professionals to help diagnose the nature of your hearing problems, recommend the best solutions to those problems, and help you work with the VA to obtain an effective hearing aid.

Tinnitus Symptoms and Warning Signs

The American Tinnitus Association defines the condition (which can be pronounced either tin-NYE-tus or TIN-ni-tus) as hearing sounds that no one else can hear. Tinnitus is more common in men than women, and tends to be age-related, appearing most commonly after the age of 50. It affects an estimated 50 million Americans, and for unknown reasons, it also seems to affect twice as many people in the South as in other areas of the country.

A range of sounds are experienced by tinnitus suffers and there are different types of tinnitus associated with these sounds.Most people with the condition hear sounds that no one else can hear; this type is referred to as Subjective tinnitus. Incredibly, there are circumstances in which a doctor or audiologist can detect these sounds upon examination, this is called Objective tinnitus. Other less common types of tinnitus include 1) hearing low-frequency sounds, often mistaken for being actual sounds in the environment, 2) pulsatile tinnitus, in which the person hears rhythmic beats in time with their pulse, and 3) musical hallucinations, or hearing music that is not really present.

If there is a single most common symptom of tinnitus, it is hearing a persistent, high-pitched ringing noise, in one ear or in both ears. This symptom may also be experienced as a buzzing, hissing, roaring, whistling, or clicking sound, one that can change in both pitch (frequency) and amplitude (loudness). If you have mild tinnitus, you might tend to notice it only in quiet environments, because the ambient sounds of noisy environments can mask the buzzing or ringing sounds. Some people experience their tinnitus as related to their posture; for example, it is more present when they are lying or sitting down than when they’re standing. For many people with mild tinnitus it is a passing irritation that comes and goes. But for those experiencing more severe symptoms it can be a source of exhaustion, depression, stress, and anxiety. Some tinnitus sufferers have complained that the condition made it more difficult for them to concentrate or sleep.

Tinnitus can be diagnosed by one of our specialists by performing a short, painless examination. Scheduling an appointment is highly recommended, because sometimes tinnitus can be an indicator of serious disease conditions such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and Meniere’s disease, or indicate more serious forms of hearing loss.

Tinnitus Signs and Symptoms

Tinnitus is defined by The American Tinnitus Association as the condition in which a person hears sounds that most often no one else can hear. It is a condition that seems to be related to age (most cases appear after the age of 50), and is much more common in men than in women. It affects an estimated 50 million Americans, and for unknown reasons, it also seems to affect twice as many people in the South as in other areas of the country.

There are several types of tinnitus, and there are many different sounds that those with the condition tend to hear. The first type distinction is between subjective tinnitus (in which only the person with the condition can hear the sounds) and objective tinnitus (which is rare, but in these cases a doctor can actually hear the sounds using sensitive listening devices). Less frequent types of tinnitus include hearing low-frequency noises (which are often mistakenly attributed to external sources rather than tinnitus), musical hallucinations (in which the person hears what appears to be music that no one else can hear), and pulsatile tinnitus (often heard as rhythmic beats that seem to be in time with one’s pulse).

The prevalent symptom of tinnitus is a ringing in one or both ears. This is often a continual high-pitched ringing that does not cease. The noise may also be perceived as a buzzing, whistling, hissing, roaring, or clicking sound, and can vary in both pitch and intensity. Mild tinnitus can be masked by every day sounds and while it may appear tinnitus comes and goes for some sufferers it’s important to know that the condition may only be heard in less noisy environments. Some people experience their tinnitus as related to their posture; for example, it is more present when they are lying or sitting down than when they’re standing. For many people with mild tinnitus it is a passing irritation that comes and goes. But for those experiencing more severe symptoms it can be a source of exhaustion, depression, stress, and anxiety. Interruptions in sleep or concentration are often found in many of these severe cases. Our hearing specialists are here to diagnose and design a treatment plan for those suffering from tinnitus. This begins with an easy and painless hearing test and examination. Tinnitus can be a warning sign of diseases like high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and Meniere

Do you Have Tinnitus – Signs and Symptoms

Tinnitus is defined by The American Tinnitus Association as the condition in which a person hears sounds that most often no one else can hear. Tinnitus is more common in men than women, and tends to be age-related, appearing most commonly after the age of 50. Tinnitus inexplicably affects more Americans in the South than other parts of the country, and an estimated 50 million Americans currently have the condition.

A range of sounds are experienced by tinnitus suffers and there are different types of tinnitus associated with these sounds.The first type distinction is between subjective tinnitus (in which only the person with the condition can hear the sounds) and objective tinnitus (which is rare, but in these cases a doctor can actually hear the sounds using sensitive listening devices). Beyond these two common forms of tinnitus there are several other less common forms. These include musical hallucinations (a person hears music that is not playing), pulsatile tinnitus where the rhythmic beats of the heart are heard, and low-frequency sounds that are mistaken for real noises in the environment.

The most common symptom of tinnitus is a persistent, almost-always present, high-pitched ringing noise in one or both ears. Though this is the most commonly heard sound others hear buzzing, clicking, whistling, roaring and hissing that can increase and decrease in pitch and volume. If you have mild tinnitus, you might tend to notice it only in quiet environments, because the ambient sounds of noisy environments can mask the buzzing or ringing sounds. Some people experience their tinnitus as related to their posture; for example, it is more present when they are lying or sitting down than when they’re standing. Although for most people tinnitus is more a nuisance than anything else, for some it has severe repercussions: they may suffer increased levels of stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Others have said that they have difficulty sleeping or concentrating as a result of the tinnitus.

Our hearing specialists are here to diagnose and design a treatment plan for those suffering from tinnitus. This begins with an easy and painless hearing test and examination. Scheduling an appointment is highly recommended, because sometimes tinnitus can be an indicator of serious disease conditions such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and Meniere’s disease, or indicate more serious forms of hearing loss.

Tinnitus Fundamentals: Recognizing the Probable Causes of Ringing in the Ears

About fifty million US citizens between the ages of 60 and 75 are experiencing a hearing disorder identified as tinnitus. More common in men than women, the primary symptom of tinnitus is experiencing tones which nobody else can hear.

Some tinnitus sufferers hear the sounds as coming from their ears, while others experience them as generated from within their heads. The most commonplace tones reported by tinnitus sufferers are a persistent high-pitched ringing, a roaring, buzzing, whistling, or humming sound, or in some cases a cricket-like chirping sound. Sometimes the clicking sounds seem to be rhythmic or pulsating, as though in synch with one’s heartbeat. Many instances are typically referred to as subjective tinnitus, meaning that just the person suffering will be able to notice the sound, however in rare cases of objective tinnitus, a health care professional may actually be able to pick up a sound.

Tinnitus is usually not considered a disease in itself but an indication of something else occurring in one or maybe more of the four elements of the auditory system – the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the brain. Tinnitus more regularly appears as a co-symptom connected with other forms of either conductive or sensorineural loss of hearing, as opposed to being a kind of loss of hearing by itself. Also, because tinnitus fills the ears with a steady base level of ever-present noise, it lowers the absolute threshold of hearing and will make it challenging to listen for weak sounds “over” the continual buzzing or ringing.

The most common cause of ringing in the ears is the aging process and age-related hearing loss, but there are various other potential causes. Some of the other things which can cause tinnitus are actual physical changes in the bones or hair cells in the inner ear, long term exposure to high decibel music or noise, traumas to the ears, neck, or head, or even prolonged worry or depression. The problem may also be related to diseases such as TMJ disorder, high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, and certain kinds of tumors in the neck or head. Tinnitus can also be brought on by prescription and non-prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, drugs used to combat cancer or malaria, or even aspirin, when taken in large quantities.

There is no certain solution or treatment for tinnitus.Approximately 35% of cases subside by themselves within a few months. Some success has been found in managing the remainder of the cases with electrical stimulation, nutrition and drug therapy, and when appropriate, surgery. If some of the signs of ringing in the ears listed above sound familiar to you, seek the advice of an expert for an assessment, so that they may help you locate the most suitable treatment for the problem.

Tinnitus 101 – Why Do Some Individuals Get Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a hearing ailment which affects a projected 50 million Americans somewhere between 60 and 75 years of age. The main manifestation of tinnitus, which usually disturbs more men than women, is hearing tones which nobody else is able to hear.

These sounds may be experienced as eminating from the ear itself, or possibly from inside the head. The most prevalent sounds heard by tinnitus sufferers tend to be a persistent high-pitched ringing, a roaring, buzzing, whistling, or humming noise, or possibly in some cases a cricket-like chirping sound. Some forms of tinnitus include a pulsing or periodic clicking, sometimes perceived as associated with the individual’s heartbeat. Usually these signs and symptoms constitute subjective tinnitus, and just the individual may perceive the sound, but in some instances a health care provider might possibly perceive faint sounds as well, in this case the condition is considered objective tinnitus.

Tinnitus in many instances suggests a problem manifesting within the four portions of the auditory system – the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the brain – and therefore could be more of a manifestation of other issues than just a disease in itself. Although it is not a type of loss of hearing per se, it is often related to other types of either conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. Also, since tinnitus fills the ears with a sustained base level of ever-present sound, it brings down the absolute threshold of hearing and causes it to become increasingly difficult to listen to weak sounds “over” the constant buzzing or ringing.

The most commonly seen cause of ringing in the ears is the aging process and age-related loss of hearing, but there are numerous other prospective causes. A few of the other things that can cause ringing in the ears are actual physical transformations in the bones or hair cells in the inner ear, extended contact with high decibel music or sounds, injuries to the ears, neck, or head, and even extended worry or depression. The condition can also be associated with disorders such as TMJ disorder, hypertension and arteriosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, and certain types of tumors in the neck or head. Some medications may also lead to tinnitus, such as certain antibiotics, cancer and malaria medications, diuretics, and aspirin consumed in abnormally large doses.

The fact is that, there isn’t a standard cure for ringing in the ears. Some cases vanish without the need for intervention after a couple of months. Others have been adequately cared for using drug or nutrition therapy, electrical stimulation, or a surgical procedure. If you have or think that you might have tinnitus, see a specialist for an exam.

Tinnitus Fundamentals: Recognizing the Possible Causes of Tinnitus

Around 50 million US citizens between 60 and 75 are experiencing a hearing condition known as tinnitus. The main characteristic of ringing in the ears, which generally disturbs more men than women, is hearing sounds which no one else can hear.

These sounds might be experienced as eminating from the ear itself, or possibly from inside the head. Although the dynamics of the sound differs, quite possibly the most commonly-reported are relentless high-pitched ringing, whistling, roaring, buzzing, or humming sounds, or a fast clicking noise a lot like crickets chirping. Sometimes the clicking sounds seem to be rhythmic or pulsating, as if in synch with the person’s heartbeat. Many instances tend to be generally known as subjective tinnitus, which means only the particular person impacted can hear the sound, but in unusual cases of objective tinnitus, a doctor may actually be able to pick up a sound.

Tinnitus frequently indicates a problem developing within the four portions of the auditory system – the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the brain – and therefore could be more of a manifestation of other conditions than a disease alone. Although it is not a form of loss of hearing per se, it is often related to other types of either conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. Also, since tinnitus fills the ears with a frequent base level of ever-present noise, it lessens the absolute threshold of hearing and can make it increasingly difficult to listen for weak sounds “over” the continual buzzing or ringing.

The most frequent cause of tinnitus is aging and age-related hearing problems, but there are numerous other possible causes. Some of the other things that may cause ringing in the ears are actual physical transformations in the bones or hair cells in the inner ear, prolonged exposure to loud music or noise, traumas to the ears, neck, or head, or even sustained worry or depression. Tinnitus is sometimes viewed as a secondary symptom of various other disorders, most notably Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorder, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and some tumors. Some medications may also induce tinnitus, including certain antibiotics, cancer and malaria medications, diuretics, and aspirin taken in unusually high doses.

Unfortunately, there is no universal treatment for tinnitus. Some cases disappear without any therapy after a few months. Others have been successfully treated using pharmaceutical or nutrition therapy, electrical stimulation, or surgery. If you have or think that you might have tinnitus, see a professional for an examination.