At our Brown Bag Lunch On Wednesday, April 30, Dr. Ryan Whitaker from Hearing and Balance Doctors of Utah talked about Tinnitus - what it is, what causes it and what some available treatments.
Tinnitus can take many different forms but it is a sound that you hear in your ears but no one else hears it. It can be a ringing, chirping, or pulsating sound and can be continuous, sudden or intermittent.
The most common cause is hearing loss. In the absence of aural stimulation, the brain will invent a phantom sound to fill in. Tinnitus can be caused by medications such as very high doses of Aspirin. It can be the result of disorders of the central nervous system such as MS, a Stroke or Fibromyalgia. The cause may be unknown or tinnitus could even be triggered by environmental changes in sound such as being very quiet, overall health, anxiety, stress or diet. It can also have a psychological component in that a negative reaction to it can cause patients to assign their tinnitus a high priority which can lead to a vicious cycle.
There are several treatments for tinnitus. One is sound therapy in which you decrease the perceived strength of the tinnitus by refocusing attention using alternate sounds or "pink noise". This can be administered by a device that looks like a hearing aid and in fact can be combined with a hearing aid. Sound therapy breaks the vicious cycle of tinnitus by educating the brain. Hearing aids can often correct Tinnitus. Also a small percentage of patients are helped with the use of multi vitamins. We are fortunate to have a local resource that will work with your family doctor to help find a solution.