What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus represents one of the most elusive mysteries facing audiologists and other hearing heath care professionals. There are two major types of tinnitus -objective and subjective.
Objective tinnitus is a sound near or in the ear, which other people can hear. There are many possible causes for this including jaw misalignment, dental problems, an open Eustachian tube, and blood vessels too close to the surface of the ear canal bone.
Subjective tinnitus is more common, however, and refers to an auditory perception not directly produced from an external sound. The patient is the only one who can hear subjective tinnitus which may be described as a “hissing, roaring, cicadids, or ringing.” It can range from high pitch to low pitch, consist of multiple tones or sound like noise (having no tonal quality at all). Tinnitus may be constant, pulsed or intermittent. It may begin suddenly, or may come on gradually. It can be perceived in one ear, both ears or in the head.
While there is no known cure for most forms of tinnitus, it is not true that “nothing can be done about it.”
Because tinnitus may be symptomatic of a treatable disease, it is important to try to identify and resolve a cause before deciding on the management approach. Patients who self treat their tinnitus with something they read on the internet or in a magazine are often wasting their money. There are over 500 possible causes of tinnitus so no single treatment will solve every tinnitus problem. Even with professional help from an audiologist who specializes in tinnitus, it may be necessary to try different approaches one at a time or in combination.
Most importantly, tinnitus is a symptom not a specific disease. If possible, it is important to determine the factors that create the tinnitus.
The tinnitus evaluation includes a thorough case history, comprehensive hearing evaluation (otoscopy, immitance, otoacoustic emissions, tonal and speech audiometry), and a tinnitus assessment procedure. This procedure determines the type, loudness and frequency of your tinnitus. Depending upon the results of this evaluation, you may also undergo a tinnitus masking procedure to determine if your tinnitus can be made softer or eliminated.
You don’t need to suffer with tinnitus, as a variety of tinnitus management procedures are available. Dr. Navarro has over forty-five years of experience helping patients who suffer from tinnitus and can help to determine the best treatment for you. Since many different things can cause tinnitus, no single treatment is a universal cure. Often it is appropriate to seek help from more than one professional to resolve your tinnitus problem. We work with physicians, psychologists, dieticians, dentists, or chiropractors as needed to help solve your tinnitus problem.
Most tinnitus sufferers can find some relief from one or a combination of the following procedures:
Many people with milder tinnitus may find relief by simply playing a radio or soft music at night when everything is quiet. Patients with more severe tinnitus may need additional treatment to find relief. While some treatments result in immediate relief, some patients may not see relief for several months. Successful treatment may depend on finding the cause of the tinnitus.
A common problem among many tinnitus sufferers is called hyperacusis. When a patient has this problem, everyday sounds, which do not bother other people, may seem painfully loud. There are a variety of treatments for this problem.
How is our treatment protocol different from other professionals?
This is an important question that comes up frequently. Very simply, we take a more comprehensive look at the cause of your tinnitus prior to developing a treatment plan. Most other professionals are skilled in only one or two approaches to the treatment of tinnitus so they only have one or two arrows in their treatment quiver. After 40 years of working with tinnitus sufferers and studying the causes and treatments of tinnitus, we have many more arrows and strive to begin with the most likely solution for your tinnitus problem. Our cooperative work with other professionals such as psychology, dietetics, chiropractic medicine, otolaryngology, internal medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy helps us to focus on the cause of your tinnitus rather than to apply a blanket approach in the hope that it will do the job. Our comprehensive case history, thorough diagnostic testing, and interaction with other professionals is the strength of our approach.
The initial consultation takes approximately 1 and a half hours and may require additional appointments to gather more information before a treatment program is begun. If comprehensive audiometry has not been completed by a licensed audiologist, (we cannot use audiograms completed by hearing aid dispensers, nurses, or technicians), the initial appointment may take longer at additional cost. A referral from your primary care physician is recommended.
The initial consultation can be facilitated if the patient brings with them or has the following information faxed to us prior to their appointment:
- Historical audiometric data
- Complete blood chemistry panel including cholesterol levels, thyroid, B vitamins and minerals, A1C (if the patient is diabetic)
- All reports from other professionals consulted regarding your tinnitus
- Complete list of ALL prescription and non-prescription medications, and vitamins currently being taken as well as any others no longer taken but which you may have taken prior to the eruption of your tinnitus
What can you do now to help your tinnitus?
- Practice “Heart Healthy Living”*
- Reduce Stress
- Avoid LOUD noise
- Set up a noise rich environment, where you are bathed in soft comfortable noise such as music, fans operating, ocean waves, etc.
- Get plenty of sleep
- Watch drug interactions
- Drink plenty of water – 8 to 10 glasses daily of pure water
- No diet sodas or other drinks with aspartame
- If you want to sweeten your drinks or cereal, use a natural sweetener such as Stevia instead
- Limit your intake of coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages
- Switch to green tea, chamomile, or herbal tea
- Do not salt your food at the table
- Stop smoking & avoid second hand smoke
- Monitor your Ph levels as too acid or alkaline may trigger tinnitus
- If diabetic, control your sugar levels with diet, exercise, and medications as needed
- Reduce your Stress Levels
- Take time for yourself
- Set aside time during the day to relax
- Adjust your schedule to reduce your stress
- Change your driving schedule to avoid peak delays
- Get up earlier to avoid being rushed
- Find someone you can talk with to share your burdens
- Friend, spouse, family member, Clergy, psychologist, psychiatrist, audiologist or other therapist
- Attend Tinnitus Support Groups
- Exercise (Exercise does not have to be intensive but it does have to be consistent and of sufficient duration to do some good. Include strength training with cardiovascular exercise.)
- Time your exercise for maximum benefit of tinnitus relief
- Be sure to clear the level of exercise with your doctor first
- Start off gradually and build up the length of your program
- Strive to exercise 60 minutes daily
- Do something you enjoy and get a partner to pull you along on days when you don’t feel like exercising.
- Avoid LOUD noise – use hearing protection faithfully. Any time you must raise your voice to be heard.
YOU ARE IN DANGER OF DAMAGING YOUR HEARING AND MAKING YOUR TINNITUS WORSE!
American Tinnitus Association
Join the ATA(American Tinnitus Association), which is a non-profit group based in Portland Oregon with the sole purpose of finding a cure.