Tinnitus is the name given to the ringing, hissing, clicking, buzzing and roaring noises that some people perceive without external acoustic stimulation. Tinnitus may be experienced in one ear, in both ears or in the head.
This constant or intermittent noise is a symptom and not a disease. It is often a sign of irritation or injury to a part of the hearing system, but it can also act as a warning sign for other conditions such as high blood pressure, a benign tumour, Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome, or medication that is damaging to the auditory system. Sometimes this warning system becomes stuck in a repetitive loop of constant sound and this can be experienced as very stressful by the individual. It is one of the most common and distressing otological problems that people experience.
Tinnitus is experienced by about 10-15% of the population in industrialized countries. For most, the sound is irritating but does not intrude in their daily activities but 2.4% experience tinnitus as so negative that their quality of life are severely affected. Tinnitus can be co-morbid with anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and can lead to strained relationships and reduced productivity. The main impact of tinnitus is mainly the ability to hear (39%), concentrate (26%) and sleep (20%). It can also impact negatively on leisure activities (12%), and work situations (7%).
With so many people whose quality of life is affected by tinnitus it is important to identify interventions that might ameliorate the suffering.
At Hearing & Health there are several ways that we can address the distressing tinnitus sound. First, an extensive auditory assessment will be done to determine the cause of the tinnitus. Sometimes it is as simple as removing wax from the client’’ ears. The assessment will show if the hairs in the inner ear in a part that is called the cochlea, has been damaged and are not sent through to the tone map in the auditory cortex
Tinnitus and Hyperacusis
- Hearing aids
Research has shown that Hearing aids are the best intervention to lessen the sound of tinnitus. 60% of responders in the study reported some relief while 20% experienced major relief of tinnitus symptoms.
As a loss of input from the cochlea is seen as the main cause of tinnitus, it would be wise to restore the input of sounds that the auditory centre has been deprived of (Tyler & Erlandsson, 2000). Kochkin et al.’s (2011) research showed that well fitted hearing aids (Searchfield, Kaur & Martin, 2010) had the greatest positive effect on tinnitus amelioration. (Saltzman & Ersner, 1947; Del Bo & Ambrosetti, 2007; Herraiz, 2008).
Different modalities of biofeedback will be used to teach you coping mechanisms that will lead to an amelioration of the intrusiveness of the tinnitus sound. By eliciting Heart Rate Variability and learn techniques to increase parasympathetic dominance, the effect of tinnitus, can be brought under control (De Ridder et al., 2007).
- Berard AIT.
The Berard auditory integration training sessions will consist of 10 hours of listening, provided in 30-minute sessions, twice a day, for a period of 10 days. There must be at least a three- hour time difference between the first and second sessions.
AIT is short, intense intervention utilizing music that has been spectrally modified according to each individual client’s hearing characteristics to allow intermittent interaction with or masking of the tinnitus. The music stimulates and activates auditory pathways, and relay stations, across a full frequency range balancing inhibitory and excitatory function.
Although cortical reorganization has taken place with tinnitus, the auditory stimulation could reverse the tonotopic map reorganization, activate lateral inhibition and reduce hyperexcitability in the auditory pathway and limbic system.