Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

Rodney Taylor, Doctor of Audiology, Advanced Studies in Tinnitus and Hyperacusis, Certified by the American Institute of Balance for Concussion and Vestibular Rehabilitation.

 


 

Do You Hear Ringing In Your Ears?

It is estimated that 6 million Canadian suffer from tinnitus of varying degrees.  Approximately 15% of those suffer enough to seek Medical Treatment.

Tinnitus is a perception of sound in the ears or head when no external sound source is present.

Tinnitus can be a symptom of a condition that is related to many forms of hearing loss.  Tinnitus is not a disease, it is a symptom that may result from a number of medical conditions.  It may occur from age-related hearing loss, ear injury, a or a physiological condition.

Tinnitus may have a physiological or biochemical origin.  Causes include damage to the auditory system, concussion, impacted wax, hearing loss, exposure to excessive noise, side effects of medication, physical issues in the neck, physical or emotional stress, fixation of the middle ear bones, non-malignant tumors on the vestibular nerve, specific medical conditions, etc.

Although there are many theories about the mechanisms behind the tinnitus phenomenon, the exact process is not fully understood.  The most widely accepted theory when related to auditory damage involved the Outer Hair Cells in the Cochlea and the involvement of the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus in the brainstem.  When cells in the cochlea are damaged, it appears that they move randomly in a state of irritation and are unable to hold a charge and leak random electrical impulses to the brain, where it is interpreted as noise.  The Cochlear Nucleus further amplifies these responses and locks them into a perception of sound.

Alternative approaches (naturopathy, acupuncture, vitamin/mineral supplements, etc.) have been of limited use in treating or reducing tinnitus.  In fact, there has not been one scientific study to date that has shown any long-standing efficacy in the reduction of tinnitus with alternative approaches.

With the proper mix of counselling and sound generators, tinnitus management has been shown to be very effective.  Proper sound enrichment and stimulation that is used for an extended period of time induces a subconscious habituation so that the tinnitus is not perceived as an intrusive or disturbing presence.  This method is also very effective in reducing hyperacusis or extreme sensitivity to sound, in addition to misophonia.

The professionals at Cornwall Hearing Aid Clinic believe that a comprehensive understanding of tinnitus will help individuals explore treatment options, learn new coping skills, and feel more positive about the future.

Before the advent of Tinnitus Management (masking, Tinnitus Retraining, Tinnitus Habituation, cochlear stimulation), most healthcare professionals would tell sufferers to “learn to live with it and nothing can be done for this condition”.  We now know that there is much that can be done to help.  Don’t let yourself suffer any longer.  Seek the help of a professional with advanced training in tinnitus management.

Rodney Taylor, Doctor of Audiology, Post-Doctoral Specialty Certificate in Tinnitus and Hyperacusis, Certified by the American Institute of Balance for Concussion and Vestibular Rehabilitation

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