What is Tinnitus?
According to the Australian Tinnitus Association around 18% of the population has some degree of tinnitus. Characterised by noises in a person’s head that are not caused by an external physical noise, it can be both physically and emotionally draining for a person. It is important to note that tinnitus is not the disease itself, but a symptom of a fault in the auditory system.
Tinnitus can be caused by many things and it is important to get tested as soon as possible if you are experiencing problems to rule out any medical concerns. Although there is no tinnitus cure, it can be reduced significantly for many people medically and/or with lifestyle changes.
My Story – Dylan Deinert
(Audiologist, co-owner of Affordable Hearing & Tinnitus Relief……and Tinnitus sufferer)
Hi. My name is Dylan Deinert and I’m both a clinical audiologist and tinnitus sufferer despite having normal hearing in the speech range. Across the years I have tried many things for tinnitus reduction. While my tinnitus fluctuates in intensity it has at certain stressful points of my life been so loud I couldn’t sleep, or concentrate, and had trouble focusing on speech because of it…so I know what it is like. Everyone’s tinnitus is unique and the requires a full assessment to consider all of the options. The same things don’t work for everyone. The below worked for me and I’m constantly looking at and evaluating treatment options.
In my professional opinion and personal experience what has helped me the most is treating it from 3 angles.
- Control the triggers – ie reduce stress, get more sleep, don’t grind my teeth as examples
- Deal with any jaw, dental, spinal , muscular or inflammation issues. Once again for me dental splint to deal with jaw grinding, chiropractor for spinal issues and tens machine to assist with muscular inflammation or back and shoulders
- Masking of the tinnitus – I currently use hearing aids set at a minimal volume (sometimes with a masking stimulus sometimes without) to reduce the tinnitus whenever it becomes acute.
I’ve manage to keep my own tinnitus under control and helped hundreds of people across the last 10 years with exploring options to assist. Is there a cure ? Not yet…but it’s certainly possible to get it under control with assistance!
In my professional opinion & personal experience, tinnitus treatment & management is best approached in three ways.
- Tinnitus Assessment & Education: with an Audiologist, Medical Doctor, or Ear Nose Throat Specialist (a basic free hearing test can be performed from your smart phone). Recommended Apps are UHear by Unitron Hearing and Sound Check by Starkey Hearing. These will not rule out medical conditions but may be good to get you started on your journey.
- Sound Enrichment
- Control the triggers
Tinnitus can be as benign as a wax blockage or as serious as part of a cluster of symptoms for tumour. It is often a warning sign that hearing loss is present. Once these have been eliminated or identified it is easier to move to the next phase. It also often removes some anxiety which can reduce tinnitus perception itself.
When the environment is very quiet I find I focus on my tinnitus more. this is often worse first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I found it is imperative to always have some noise present or my brain wanders back to the noise. I find a number of strategies useful here. Using a white noise generator , nature CD or sound app on my phone. White noise at low levels seems to work particularly well without interfering with working or communicating for me. (Starkey Sound Relax is one of my current noise generators that I use before sleeping and available FREE of charge from the android and apple app markets). I have also used hearing aids and maskers to great benefit and continue to do so.
This in my opinion in what is often overlooked in trying to obtain tinnitus relief. Even when I use hearing aids or masking devices to manage my tinnitus, I find my tinnitus becomes very uncomfortable if these triggers are left unaddressed.
Managing Tinnitus Triggers
I’m going to be frank here and list what my personal triggers were and what I found helped.
*please check with your medical doctor prior to and exercise or diet changes*
Stress: Take B complex, Magnesium and Zinc, More Regular exercise, Taking 30 mins per day to do something relaxing
Loud Noise: I wear foam plugs if exposed to loud noises as this sends my tinnitus crazy. A decent set of headphones with noise reduction allows clearer listening at lower volumes. Starkey have another free App to check acceptable noise levels called Starkey Sound Check
Sleep: With stress and tinnitus comes poor and inadequate sleep. Sleep masks, sound enrichment . I am currently using Starkey Sound Relax App or white noise generator. If snoring is present consider testing for sleep Apnoea
Hearing Loss: I have normal hearing but do wear hearing aids at a very minimal volume with additional white noise at times. Straining to hear is likely to aggravate Tinnitus. Consider hearing aids, or a number of Assistive Listening Devices can be of benefit, eg headphones for the TV
Muscular inflammation/pain: When the neck and shoulders are tense tinnitus or there is pain in the body this makes my tinnitus more pronounced. Consider TENS machine , Ultrasound, massage, yoga. It is also a good idea to deal with any dental or spinal issues where possible.
Get yourself tested today!
Testing usually involves the following steps:
- You will be asked to complete a comprehensive case history and ‘Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire’. This provides the Audiologist with valuable information about the potential triggers for your tinnitus and how it impacts on your life. This in turn allows them to focus in many instances on practical steps for tinnitus reduction.
- Next, the ear canal and drum are examined via otoscopy. The Audiologist is assessing wax (which can increase tinnitus substantially with a full blockage), and overall health of the ear canal and ear drum to make sure medical referral is not warranted.
- The function of the middle ear is subsequently assessed using tympanometry. A tip is inserted into the ear canal and a low pitch tone is presented while a small amount of pressure is applied. This allows assessment of the mobility of the ear drum and the three small bones in the middle ear. Any issues with the middle ear (including Eustachian tubes) will be observed in this test. Common middle ear conditions such as “Glue Ear” can also generally be excluded with this test.
- Next, Pure Tone Audiometry is performed. Air conduction testing occurs like this: foam inserts are inserted into the ears, or headphones placed on the ears, and the Audiologist plays a series of tones at different pitches. You response to the quietest pitches are recorded by the Audiologist on a graph called an audiogram. Next, bone conduction testing occurs (this allows the Audiologist to differentiate between middle ear problems and inner ear problems). Here, the Audiologist places a bone vibrator on the mastoid bone (just behind the ear) and again your responses to the quietest tones presented are recorded on the audiogram.
The Audiologist may run additional tests as necessitated by the results. They will then discuss the results of the testing and go through the case history with you to identify any tinnitus treatment options. These may include referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, Neurologist, or GP for further medical evaluation, TGA approved treatment devices such as Neuromonics, Masking devices and/or Hearing aids, as well as lifestyle modifications and elimination of any triggers which are identified in your case history to elicit a reduction in volume and/or annoyance. Our Principle Audiologist Dylan has tinnitus himself and uses Hearing aids/Masking units to achieve relief.
Providing you with Tinnitus treatment in Brisbane
At Affordable Hearing, we understand how unpleasant tinnitus can be, which is why we offer testing and treatment to get your life back on track. Our hearing and tinnitus centre provides affordable options with professional staff, ensuring you get the treatment you need. For more information or to book an appointment for a tinnitus test, call Affordable Hearing on 1300 658 742 today.