Can Light Therapy Be Used to Treat Tinnitus?
Who doesn’t love hearing sounds that are not really there? Not. Annoying. At. All. Ever considered using light therapy for your tinnitus treatment?
Patients in San Diego with tinnitus report hearing a number of different sounds, such as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing, and these sounds may range in pitch from low to high.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is usually caused by damage to the hair cells within the inner ear. The hair cells move in response to the pressure of a sound wave. When the hairs move, an electrical signal is sent through the auditory nerve to the brain, where it is interpreted as sound. If the hairs become damaged, they can randomly send electrical signals to the brain. The brain will interpret these signals as sounds, even though there is no sound actually present.
Damage to the hair cells can be caused by age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noises and earwax blockage. Less common causes of tinnitus include Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorders, an injury to the head or neck or acoustic neuromas. In rare cases, blood vessel disorders have been linked to tinnitus symptoms. More than 200 drugs are known to list tinnitus as a side effect. The most common drugs are antibiotics, cancer medications and diuretics.
In order to diagnose tinnitus, your San Diego audiologist will complete an audiological exam, a movement test and an imaging test. The results from these tests are used help determine the possible cause of your tinnitus. If no cause is identified, treatment options are focused on helping the patient reduce the severity of the tinnitus and cope with the noise.
Two Types of Light Therapy
Light therapy is a common treatment, traditionally used to help patients suffering from depression, acne or psoriasis. Recently, more and more San Diego audiologists are using it as tinnitus treatment. There are two kinds of light therapy: low level laser therapy (LLLT) and colored light therapy (CLT).
Low Level Laser Therapy
Low level laser therapy uses laser energy to help repair damaged tissue and rejuvenate cells so they return to their healthy state. The laser light is able to stimulate the mitochondria inside your cells to produce energy.
Color Light Therapy
While LLLT is used to treat the underlying cause of tinnitus, colored light therapy is used to treat the symptoms. Staring at specifically tailored colors, usually blue, red and green, has been proven to help patients find relief from their symptoms.
To learn more about proper tinnitus treatments and if light therapy may work for you, contact your San Diego audiologist.