Tinnitus and the Sound of Silence

Ahh, the sound of silence.    Quiet.   Peaceful.   Tranquil.   Silent.

But is it ever really silent? Not for at least 50 million of us – we’re all listening to the sound of our tinnitus; the new “silent”. Tinnitus, or the perception of sound with no external stimulus, is a very common auditory phenomenon without a common cause. Despite the enormous hours of research and endless funds aimed at identifying the true cause of tinnitus, no one can say with 100% certainty what is really happening when we hear it. For those of us who experience tinnitus, like a good neighbor or State Farm Insurance, it’s always there. [NOTE: this is not an endorsement for State Farm Insurance.]

Ringing, Buzzing, Beeping, Noise

Tinnitus, pronounced one of two ways: TINN (like a tin can) i-tus or ti – NIGHT – us, is, at it’s very best, annoying. It is one of the most common health conditions in the US but strangely enough, there is no known cure. It is a challenging condition to treat as it not only lacks a cure, but tinnitus is very unique to each person (volume, tone, pitch, quality), it can change from one moment to the next, and it can present in one ear, both ears or the center of your head.

Next Steps

So, what can be done about it? We know we can’t cure it but, there are treatment options. First and foremost, make sure you get your hearing tested on a regular basis. As tinnitus is commonly associated with hearing loss, we need to rule it out as a contributing factor – it could mean your brain is being starved of auditory input and it’s being missed. Personally, I experience tinnitus the way I experience my arm falling asleep – numbness and tingling from the lack of sensory input. Like our arms need blood flow, our brain needs auditory stimulation. Get your hearing checked to ensure your brain is getting the information it needs to stay healthy.

Here’s the Best Part

Because we know how annoying tinnitus can be, we do free hearing screenings at Blue Sky Hearing – contact us today to get scheduled!  This is the first step in treating your tinnitus!  

Until You Come to See Us

While you are working on getting your audiology appointment scheduled, consider using a sound generator from your smartphone. Sometimes these apps can produce enough background sound to blur the auditory perception of tinnitus. These can be particularly helpful at night time if your tinnitus is causing anxiety and preventing you from falling asleep. In addition, if you’re experiencing added stress from your tinnitus, work on reframing the way you think about it. Thinking differently about the sound can help retrain the brain from associating it with stress to something much more benign. We’ll talk more about this in upcoming articles, so stay tuned!

 

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