Activity Feed Forums Hearing Loss Tinnitus! Reply To: Tinnitus!

  • Dr. Christopher Schweitzer

    August 1, 2023 at 11:51 am

    I’ve personally had tinnitus for over 40 years – unpleasant reminders of excessive exposure to military weapons and power tool noise. Subsequently, as a hearing scientist I’ve probably tried every conceivable ‘hack,’ and engaged in many years of clinical counseling in my audiology career. To say the least, in most cases there’s no easy, long term fix. But there are some techniques that can lessen the suffering. First, there are a numerous life choices that can make a difference – some good and some bad. The top 3 ingestible substances that seems to impact the level of tinnitus for many people are Caffein, Anti-inflammatories, and Alcohol. Higher consumption of any of those will tend to worsen the tinnitus for many people. Some important medications are also aggravating factors and of course, noise is always best to minimize whenever possible

    I’ve often encouraged clients to keep a simple rating diary indicating Severity of Tinnitus 4 or 5 times a day (say on a 1 – 5 scale). That may reveal if there’s any connections of say, ‘1 hour after strong coffee- level 3,’ or ‘2 hours after taking Advil- level 2,’ or ‘Just before bed and 3 glasses of wine – level 1.’ That kind of tracking may help identify a personalized management plan. Of course, tinnitus is almost always more noticeable in quiet situations than when there’s music or conversation – something that occupies the auditory system at a higher level than the chronic internal irritation signal (dare we say, “Hear-i-tation’?) This is kind of temporary distraction is known as “masking’ in audiology and psychoacoustics. Many devices have been included variations of noises to occupy the hearing system and push the tinnitus to lower levels of notice. I’ve tried and fit most of them with highly variable results.

    It should be obvious that this is a vey complex topic that could (and does) occupy entire textbooks. But for now, let me conclude by emphasizing that in most cases the ringing noise known as tinnitus is Benign! Except in extremely rare cases is it indicative of a serious medical situation. That alone can help dial down the discomfort for many sufferers. I’ve learned to ‘make friends’ with this intrusive annoyance, but I am confident that for me it is just that – an annoyance, not a medical alarm.

    More in a future Ask Our Audiologist posting.