Resolve to Treat Your Tinnitus

Resolve to Treat Your Tinnitus

This year, do something for you – resolve to finally treat the ringing in your ear. Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a buzzing, ringing, hissing, chirping or whistling in the ear. Even though tinnitus is common – the American Tinnitus Institute estimates that more than 45 million Americans experience the condition – many choose not to seek treatment.

Below is a list of steps for treating your tinnitus.

Step One: Diagnosis

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Before your audiologist can create a customized treatment plan, your tinnitus must be diagnosed. This includes:

Step Two: Determine the Cause

Once your doctor has confirmed you are experiencing tinnitus, they will try to determine the cause. A variety of conditions and illnesses include tinnitus as a common symptom, including:

  • A buildup of earwax
  • Certain drugs (aspirin and some antibiotics)
  • Natural aging process
  • Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck or jaw problems
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Prolonged exposure to loud sounds

Step Three: Create a Treatment Plan

While some of these causes, such as taking a certain medication or a buildup of earwax, can be treated, many cannot. Because of this, tinnitus treatment is focused on managing symptoms, rather than eliminating the noise.

Hearing Aids

Nearly 90 percent of those with tinnitus also experience hearing loss. Simply turning up the volume on the hearing aids you already own can help drown out the tinnitus.

Masking Devices

Similar to hearing aids, masking devices sit in the ear and work by playing a pleasant tone to cover up the tinnitus.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

TRT focuses on your brain’s ability to habituate, or filter out, sounds on a subconscious level so they do not reach conscious perception. Background sounds are deemed unimportant by your brain, such as a computer fan or the hum of a refrigerator, and they are not perceived as loud. Your brain is screening the sounds out.

There are two versions of therapy. The patient can play a neutral sound everywhere they go or they can receive one-on-one counseling to train their brain.

Cognitive Therapy

Counselors can help you modify your reaction to tinnitus. When combined with other therapies, such as masking devices, this treatment is quite effective.

Lifestyle Changes

While there is no research validating vitamin supplements or alternative therapies as effective tinnitus treatments, many find that including ginkgo biloba, zinc and magnesium in their diets can be helpful. Acupuncture, meditation, magnets and even hypnosis are also used to varying degrees of success.

The tinnitus treatment that is right for you is out there. Now is the time to find it. Contact San Diego ENT today.

 

Why Do My Ears Ring After a Concert?


Your inner ears contain tiny hair cells, called stereocilia, that translate soundwaves into electrical energy that is then transmitted through the auditory nerve to the brain. When you attend a concert or any other event that exposes you to loud noises, you can harm those little hairs. Once damaged, they can misfire, sending made-up sound signals to your brain. The resulting ringing in your ears is called tinnitus.

How Can I Make It Stop?

rock conert

While there is no medical cure for tinnitus, there are strategies to help lessen the discomfort.

Keep the Volume Down

The last thing you want is to cause more damage to your hearing. For the next few days, be especially careful to keep the volume low on your headphones and TV speakers. Try to avoid noisy venues like restaurants or bars.

Distract Yourself

The more you think about your tinnitus, the more uncomfortable you’ll be. Try meditation, yoga or other gentle exercise to clear your mind and relax your body.

Play White Noise

White noise apps like Noisli can help mask the sounds of tinnitus. The same effect can be achieved by turning on a fan or humidifier.

Avoid Possible Triggers

Tinnitus can be worsened by alcohol, caffeine, sodium, tobacco and certain medications like aspirin. Try to avoid these substances.

How Loud Is Too Loud?

Any sound above 85 dB can cause permanent damage to your hearing. For reference, 85 dB is about the volume of heavy traffic or a busy restaurant. Most concerts clock in at a whopping 100-105 dB, which can cause irreversible damage to your auditory system after just 15 minutes of exposure.

If your tinnitus doesn’t go away after a couple days, it’s possible that permanent damage has occurred. An audiologist can help identify any hearing loss or other potential causes for your tinnitus.

Preventing Tinnitus

Before your next concert, consider investing in a set of musician’s earplugs. These devices can be custom-made for maximum comfort, and are perfect for music aficionados because they block unsafe noise levels while still providing crystal-clear sound quality.

To learn more about custom hearing protection, talk to a provider at San Diego Hearing Center today!

Got Tinnitus? Here’s How to Get ZZZ’s.


San Diego residents with tinnitus often have trouble falling asleep. A constant ringing in your ears is a distraction even in the middle of the day; lying in bed in the dark, it can leave you tossing and turning even when you’re dead tired. We have some sleep strategies that should help tinnitus sufferers get much-needed zzz’s.

Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
dog in a blanket

An estimated 50 million Americans experience tinnitus. Usually described as a ringing or similar sensation in the ears, tinnitus can have a significant impact on your life. Patients frequently end up getting too little sleep; they are unable to tune out the noise in their ears, and that leads to anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle: sleep deprivation worsens tinnitus, and tinnitus causes sleep deprivation.

Your San Diego audiologist has some tips to deal with tinnitus and help ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Try masking techniques. Sound masking involves playing background noise to distract your brain from tinnitus so you are able to ignore it and get to sleep. White noise is a popular choice; you can download a smartphone app and play gentle rain or ocean waves, but any relaxing sound will work. People have success with fans, air conditioners, soft music and other environmental sounds. The trick is to set the volume a little bit lower than your tinnitus so the brain becomes used to it; eventually, it will assign less meaning to tinnitus.
  2. Stick to a bedtime routine. Adopting a consistent sleep schedule helps train your body to fall asleep at the same time every night. Set an alarm to wake up at the same time, as well. Do this regularly—even on weekends (ignore the urge to alter your schedule by staying up late or sleeping in)—and you should be able to fall asleep more easily.
  3. Adopt a relaxation regimen. Many people watch TV or scroll through their phones before bedtime, but this makes it harder to fall asleep; the blue light generated from these screens mimics sunlight and encourages the brain to stop producing melatonin, which signals that it’s time to go to sleep. Instead, turn off these devices and focus on relaxation. You can try the following:
    1. Physical relaxation: Hot bath, trigger point self-massage with a tennis ball, stretching and progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
    2. Mental relaxation: Read a book (an actual book, not your Kindle), meditate, practice breathing techniques, listen to relaxing music.

Developing a routine and following it consistently will help your brain associate that routine with falling asleep.

  1. Make your bedroom dark. Ambient light of any kind—not just blue screens—can disrupt normal sleeping patterns. Research shows that a pitch-black bedroom makes it easier to fall, and stay, asleep. Try blackout curtains or a sleep mask. Electrical tape can be used to cover lights from the TV, cable box or other source and won’t leave behind a sticky residue.
  2. Turn down the thermostat. Research shows that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68º. If this is warmer than you’d expect, it’s due to an internal body process called thermoregulation; your body’s core temperature drops automatically at bedtime in order to encourage sleep. If the temperature in your bedroom is too high, it can make it difficult to fall asleep. If you’re afraid you’ll be too cold, wear a pair of socks and have an extra blanket on hand.
  3. Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine doesn’t only make it difficult to fall asleep; it’s actually a tinnitus trigger for many people. Even if you are able to drift off, the quality of your sleep will be affected. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and may increase stress and anxiety. It’s best to avoid caffeine for at least eight hours before bedtime; if you enjoy an after-dinner cup of coffee or evening tea, make it decaf.
  4. Don’t just toss and turn. If you’re awake and can’t get to sleep, tossing and turning won’t solve anything; constantly looking at the clock can cause anxiety and is one way to ensure you won’t be able to drift off peacefully. Instead, get out of bed and make yourself a light snack. Digestion requires energy, so a small snack can actually help make you tired. Choose a comfortable chair or couch, put on soft music and read a book once you’ve finished eating. Once you begin to yawn or feel tired, go back to bed. Chances are, your body will be ready for sleep now.

If you’ve tried these tactics and still have trouble sleeping, it might be a good idea to visit a sleep specialist in order to rule out a serious problem such as sleep apnea, which is common in people with hearing loss. If you have questions about tinnitus, contact a hearing specialist in San Diego.

How to Diagnose Tinnitus

diagnose tinnitus and treatment

Wow, that fly sure is annoying. If you are one of the almost 50 million people in San Diego and throughout the country that has just realized there is in fact no bee, you are probably suffering from tinnitus. So, How do you diagnose tinnitus?

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a ringing in your ears that is not present in real life. It does not have to be a ringing; it can be a hissing, buzzing, roaring, sizzling, clicking or other noise. It can also range in pitch and volume.

 

Once you have accepted that you have a problem, there is a little more work to be done before your audiologist can present you with a solution.

 

Tinnitus Evaluation

 

The first thing your audiologist will do is complete a tinnitus evaluation. Since tinnitus is a symptom of multiple health conditions, it can sometimes point to a more serious problem. This is why it is important to at least try to identify the cause of the symptoms.

 

There are several goals your doctor hopes to accomplish when they evaluate any tinnitus patient:

 

  • Identify the underlying cause of your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Determine if your tinnitus is subjective or objective.
  • Evaluate how your tinnitus is affecting your speech reception.
  • Assess whether you’re experiencing sound sensitivity.
  • Pinpoint the frequency and loudness of the sound you’re hearing.

 

During a tinnitus evaluation, your audiologist will administer:

 

  • An in-depth written and verbal interview.
  • A complete physical examination of your auditory system.
  • A pure tone and ultra-high frequency audiometry test.
  • Speech reception and word recognition tests.
  • An otoacoustic emissions test.
  • Additional tests, studies and evaluations.

 

There are Two Types of Tinnitus, Subjective and Objective

 

Subjective tinnitus produces sound only you can hear; it is the most common type. This type of tinnitus is often caused by ototoxic medications or one of many audiological, neurological, metabolic and psychological conditions.

 

Objective tinnitus is much rarer and is often connected to underlying vascular or neurological problems.

 

While determining the cause of your tinnitus is important, if it cannot be pinpointed your audiologist can still create a customized tinnitus treatment plan. This plan often includes the use of white noise machine and lifestyle changes to make the bothersome noises less intrusive.

 

If you are finally ready to find relief from your tinnitus, contact your audiologist in San Diego today.

Why Do You Hear a Ringing in Your Ear?

Have you ever thought you heard a fax coming in only to realize that you have not owned a personal fax machine for at least two decades? Hearing a low buzzing, hissing, ringing in the ear, roaring or clicking is a sign you may be suffering from tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound when no sound is actually present. Almost 20 percent of the population in San Diego and throughout the country reports some degree of tinnitus. Those suffering from tinnitus may experience these sounds constantly or sporadically and they may be present in both ears or only one; sounds can also vary in frequency and pitch. In addition to hearing a phantom noise, those with tinnitus often also experience fatigue, sleep problems, memory problems, depression and anxiety.

ringing in the ear treatment in san diego

Have you now accepted the fact that your San Diego home has not suddenly starting making new house sounds and instead you may be suffering from episodes of tinnitus? Good. The first step toward tinnitus treatment is accepting you have a problem.

 

Before seeking treatment from our San Diego audiologist it is important to understand what causes tinnitus.

There are two kinds of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective is the most common type and is classified by sounds only you can hear. The second, and much rarer type of tinnitus is called objective. This occurs when your audiologist can actually hear the ringing during an examination.

 

Ringing in the Ear Causes

Tinnitus is typically caused by damage to the inner ear. The inner ear is lined with small hairs. When sound waves enter the ear they cause these hairs to move, which causes an electrical signal to be sent through the auditory nerve to your brain where it is interpreted as sound. If these hairs become damaged they can begin to randomly send electrical impulses. These signals are interpreted by your brain as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise and earwax blockage are all common causes of inner ear damage. This is why hearing protection is so important.

 

In addition to inner ear damage, tinnitus is also a common side effect of some disorders. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder categorized by episodes of vertigo and tinnitus.  Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) or a head or neck injury can cause tinnitus. Acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumor that develops on the nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear, can also cause tinnitus, although usually only in one ear.

 

Blood vessel disorders have been known to cause tinnitus. Atherosclerosis is a condition that can cause the blood vessels near the ear to become rigid. This causes blood flow to be more forceful and as a result, you can actually hear it. High blood pressure, a head or neck tumor pressing on a blood vessel or irregular blood flow can cause tinnitus.

Prescription Drugs

There are more than 200 drugs known to list tinnitus as a side effect. Fortunately, the symptoms will disappear when you stop using the drug. These drugs range from cancer medications to water pills, quinine medications, some antibiotics and certain antidepressants.

 

Figuring out the cause of your ringing in the ear is priority number one for your San Diego audiologist, as it can help them when developing a tinnitus treatment plan. Are you ready to finally have relief from your tinnitus symptoms? If so, contact your San Diego audiologist, today.

 

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 Therapy

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.

Tinnitus Diagnosis

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.

The Sweet Sounds of Tinnitus!

After anxiously waiting in the online queue for what felt like hours, you finally snagged those tickets to the hottest show coming to San Diego. We will call him “Truce Ringsteen”. Once you are done celebrating, it is time to figure out how to prepare for the concert of your life.

tinnitus and concerts

Concerts are one of the common causes of tinnitus in San Diego. To understand why, first you need to understand how loud noises can harm your hearing. Anything over 85 dB can damage the intricate inner workings of your ear. To put this into perspective: a normal conversation clocks in at about 60 dB, traffic in San Diego can be about 85 dB and the sirens on an emergency vehicle can reach 120 dB. Now, just to be clear, an ambulance zooming past you on the freeway won’t damage your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss only happens when something is incredibly loud, such as an explosion, or you are exposed to any sound over 85 dB for an extended period of time. Sounds like a concert to me.

 

Much like noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus is caused by damage to the inner ear. Inside the inner ear, there are small hairs. Sound waves cause these hairs to move, and these movements send an electrical signal through the auditory nerve to your brain where it is interpreted as sound. If these hairs become damaged, they can randomly send electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise and earwax blockage are all common conditions that cause inner ear damage.

 

The good news is there is an easy solution. Earplugs! Seems almost too simple. Fortunately for you, you had to buy your Truce Ringsteen tickets far in advance. This give you time to visit your San Diego audiologist to be fitted for earplugs. While there are a wide variety of earplugs on the market, the best ones are the ones that are expertly fit to your ear. Musician’s earplugs are the ones you will need. These custom earmolds are able to reduce sound levels evenly so music and speech sound clear. These plugs prevent dangerously loud sounds from entering the ear but still keep the integrity of the music intact.

Don’t let the concert of a lifetime leave you with a lifelong condition. Contact your San Diego audiologist for more information on how to safely attend a concert.

 

6 Ways to Stop Those Annoying Tinnitus Sounds

tinnitus management san diegoThe only thing more annoying than the ringing in your ears is being unable to make it stop. Tinnitus is a term that describes the persistent presences of phantom sounds, which can manifest in many forms including ringing, buzzing or whooshing. There is still no proven cure for tinnitus; however, there are many ways individuals can manage their symptoms.

  1. Get a hearing exam. In most cases of tinnitus, there is also some degree of hearing loss. Sometimes, these two conditions can be treated simultaneously through digital hearing aids. Some listening devices are equipped with sound therapy technology. Your audiologist can perform a hearing test and provide sound therapy recommendations.
  2. Reduce your stress. Studies indicate that stress can worsen tinnitus symptoms. This can serve as a downward spiral, as tinnitus can also increase stress levels. Finding a way to de-stress—such as exercise, meditation or deep breathing—can help reduce the noise.
  3. Eliminate risk factors. Smoking, high caffeine intake and regular alcohol consumption may increase the sensation of the sounds.
  4. Get moving. Exercising three to five times per week can help increase blood flow in your head and ears, which may help reduce unwanted sounds. Additionally, exercise can eliminate some of the issues that develop due to tinnitus, including stress and depression.
  5. Cognitive behavioral therapy. One of the most established forms of tinnitus treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. A psychologist can work with you to teach you to cope with tinnitus symptoms and therefore reduce your reaction. For many people, this has allowed them to cope with their condition and return to their lives as normal.
  6. Check your meds. If you regularly take over-the-counter medicines, you may be increasing your risk of tinnitus. Many common over-the-counter medications are ototoxic and can be harmful to your auditory system. Share your medications with your physician. He or she may be able to provide safe alternatives.

If you’re frustrated with the ringing in your ears, contact an audiology professional. As experts in the arena of hearing health, audiologists can provide thorough diagnostics and personalized treatment options to manage your condition. To find a premier audiologist in San Diego, contact our team today at (858) 279-3277!

Will Gene Therapy Help Cure Tinnitus?

tinnitus-therapy-san-diego

Tinnitus, a condition where individuals hear persistent phantom sounds, is more prevalent than you might realize. The condition affects up to 50 million Americans, or 20 percent of the population. Tinnitus sounds can manifest differently depending on the individual—buzzing, whooshing, ringing, for example—and the severity can range from mild to debilitating. There are proven tinnitus treatment options, including sound or behavioral therapy, but some are unable to achieve complete rehabilitation from these methods. Fortunately, recent studies conducted in gene therapy have shown promise and may even lead to a cure for tinnitus and hearing loss.

While there are a number of potential causes of tinnitus, the majority of tinnitus cases are linked to hearing loss. Hearing health professionals theorize that as you lose the ability to hear certain frequencies, the brain compensates by increasing sound sensitivity or creating phantom sounds.

Studies in gene therapy have attempted to regenerate cells so the body can restore the hair cells responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. Through the regeneration of sensory receptors, an individual’s hearing can potentially normalize, thereby eliminating the presence of unwanted sounds. This method has proven successful in treating other animals, primarily guinea pigs and mice. Recently, researchers have begun doing pilot tests on human subjects. In 2014, a Denver native was among the first to receive the gene therapy treatment. Though the research is ongoing, the patient did tell The New York Times he was “hearing a new sound or hearing sound differently” than he had before.

Since the initial reports in early 2015, little has been shared about the progress of the pilot test. Researchers are still optimistic, however, and some are hoping for successful human treatments by 2025. If the scientific community is able to accomplish this feat, it would have a significant impact on the medical field and hearing health industry. Fortunately, there are many other successful options for tinnitus treatment. San Diego is equipped with premiere hearing health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of tinnitus and hearing loss. To schedule a consultation with an audiologist, we welcome you to contact our team at our Hillcrest office at (619) 298-8546 or in Clairemont at (858) 279-3277.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Your Tinnitus?

tinnitus-treatment-san-diego

If your life has been affected by tinnitus, a perception of sounds when no sound is present, then you understand what a drastic impact it can have on an individual’s well-being. Persistent and unwanted sounds can impede a person’s ability to perform their daily activities, cause sleep disorders and even lead to depression. Fortunately, there are a number of tinnitus treatment options that may bring relief. Many prominent forms of treatment fall under two categories, sound and behavioral therapy.

Sound Therapies

This method uses external sounds to help counteract the persistent noise caused by tinnitus. Some forms of sound therapies include sound masking, distraction, retraining and neuromodulation. A number of devices have been created for this purpose, including hearing aids, sound masking machines and notched-music devices. Sound masking typically offers temporary relief, while notched-music devices use habituation to help the patient become accustomed to the the sound and achieve relief over time.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies can be used in conjunction with sound therapies or independently to alter an individual’s emotional reaction to their tinnitus symptoms. The presence of unwanted sounds can be emotionally challenging. Therapy can aim to reduce tinnitus-related anxiety or stress. By altering their reaction to the trigger, patients can more successfully dissociate from tinnitus’ negative effects. Some popular therapies include Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), Tinnitus Activities Treatment (TAT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

So, what form of tinnitus treatment is right for you? While a spectrum of therapies and treatments exists, the ability to treat or manage tinnitus symptoms is dependent on the underlying issue. An audiologist will conduct a physical exam and learn more about your symptoms in order to determine the cause of the disorder. Your hearing care professional will then make a recommendation on which therapy or combination of therapies will be most effective. If you or a loved one is suffering from tinnitus, relief is possible. To learn more about tinnitus treatment, or to schedule a consultation with a local San Diego audiologist, contact our office at (619) 298-8546.