Archive | Tinnitus

Epilepsy drug may help reduce tinnitus

An auditory research group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recently discovered that a drug used in the treatment of epilepsy known as retigabine may aid in the prevention of tinnitus.

How does retigabine help to prevent tinnitus? What researchers discovered is that retigabine works to proactively reduce the hyperactivity of those cells in the ear that cause you to think you are hearing sounds that actually aren’t there. The mice that were treated with retigabine immediately after exposure to loud stimulus did not develop tinnitus.

This study serves as a stepping stone for further research into the realm of tinnitus prevention. Researchers are now focusing on the development of a drug that will isolate specific mechanisms involved in the manifestation of tinnitus with the aim of minimizing potential side-effects.

  • If your results indicate a need for a hearing instrument, we will most likely begin the fitting process for making molds of your ears. The doctor will then consult with you about the different choices available for hearing instruments. These items will be considered:
    1. Conditions at birth or during adolescence that may have an impact on hearing.
    2. Exposure to workplace, military, or recreational noise.
    3. Medications prescribed for medical conditions.
    4. Past surgeries.
    5. Family traits and hereditary anomalies that may be associated with hearing loss.
  • What to bring: Please bring a list of all medications (prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, supplements) you are taking, your photo ID and insurance card(s) with you. You may print out and complete the necessary forms (located to the right of page) and bring them with you to your appointment. Please check in 15 minutes prior to your appointment time.
  • Who to bring: your main conversation partner: Communicating with your friends and family is often the most important reason you are going forward with a hearing solution. You can benefit from having a friend or family member join you in the consultation and fitting process. That way, instructions and decisions can be shared and others will have a better understanding of the process.
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How is tinnitus treated?

A number of different treatment options are available to individuals of all ages who suffer from tinnitus. If your tinnitus does not go away on its own, or if it seems to be getting worse, your audiologist can help you manage the symptoms and reduce their impact on your daily life. Here are a few examples of treatment options available to those who struggle with tinnitus:

Acoustic neural stimulation is an excellent treatment approach for individuals with very loud tinnitus. A broadband acoustic signal, masked by music, is delivered through headphones and aims to change the neural circuits in the brain. This device effectively reduces (and in some cases eliminates) tinnitus through the process of desensitization.

Sound generators come in the form of both tabletop/handheld sound generators and wearable sound generators that fit into the ear. They are designed to mask the tinnitus with soft, pleasant sounds such as music, the sound of falling water, or white noise. Sound generators work best for individuals with mild tinnitus.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are ideal for individuals who suffer from hearing loss compounded by tinnitus. They help to reduce the effects of tinnitus because they allow the user to control the volumes of the outside world. For those with hearing loss, channeling outside sounds can be helpful in terms of masking tinnitus.

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Simplest treatment involves earwax removal

Tinnitus can be permanent or temporary, depending on the circumstances. There are a number of treatments for hearing loss and tinnitus available that we have previously covered on our blog. One of the simplest causes of tinnitus can be a buildup of wax in the ear that causes a blockage.

What causes ear wax? Ear wax is caused by glands in the ear canal. Wax catches dust and small debris, preventing it from causing an infection or damaging the ear drum. Often wax drains out on its own or falls out. Some people have smaller ear canals or their body produces more wax, so they are more likely to have an excess or have blockages. A buildup occurs when wax isn’t cleaned or it becomes packed in by improper cleaning. Using Q-tips can pack in wax further rather than removing it.

What happens when ear wax builds up? The buildup of ear wax can cause hearing loss, dizziness, ear pain, itching from drainage in the ear canal, and a sensation of feeling “plugged up.”

How do you prevent ear wax build up? Doctors do not recommend using Q-tips. Studies have also shown ear candles to be ineffective.

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Five ways to prevent and treat tinnitus

Fortunately, tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease, so there are many ways to prevent and treat it.

1. Prepare and plan ahead
If you know in advance that you’ll be exposed to loud sounds, plan ahead. Make sure to bring ear protection. Or, plan to position yourself as far away from the noise source as possible. Even taking 15 – 20 minute breaks from noise exposure can help protect you from ear damage.

2. Protect your ears
Make sure to wear ear protection before exposure to noise and keep it on until the nose has stopped or you have left the noisy environment. Sometimes tinnitus begins immediately after the first loud sound, so every second counts. When using power tools or guns, you can double up by wearing earplugs and earmuffs. Just one gunshot near ear level can produce tinnitus.

3. After noise exposure, act quickly and let your ears heal
The two things that intensify tinnitus the most are stress and fatigue. So make sure to rest and stay hydrated.

4. Plan for next time
Use prior experience to help prepare more effectively for your next loud exposure. Do you need custom earplugs? Do you need to preprogram your iPod at a lower volume? Or buy concert tickets a couple rows back?

5. Minimize noise exposure
Carry earplugs with you and use them. There are even earplugs that allow you to enjoy the full range of frequencies, while still protecting your ears. Make sure to limit time in noisy environments and choose a more quiet setting for social outings.

Remember, almost all tinnitus cases are caused from noise and can be prevented. So be proactive and take care of your ears.

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What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is commonly described as a hissing sound, roaring or chirping sound. Treatment is dependent on the cause and may include the following: sound therapy, drug therapy, counseling, biofeedback, dental treatment or electrical stimulation. Tinnitus, commonly called “ringing in the ears,” is any sound you hear that’s not from an external source. It can sound like a buzz, a high-pitched tone, pulsing or chirping. Some people even perceive singing or music. It can come on gradually over months or years, or happen instantly.

The most common cause of tinnitus is inner ear damage. What causes inner ear damage? Noise. Nearly a third of all tinnitus cases can be traced back to noise damage. And it’s more common than you think. About 21 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds experience tinnitus.

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Audiology Professionals

Audiology Professionals