Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears in the absence of an external sound, and is a very common complaint of individuals with and without hearing loss. Although it is perceived in the ear, tinnitus actually occurs in the brain. When the delicate hair cells inside the cochlea are damaged or over–stimulated, the result is tinnitus. To date, there is no cure for this condition. The number of people affected is growing fast and statistics show that one in five people suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is also the leading “souvenir” that veterans retain from service.
Although tinnitus is often described as ‘ringing in the ears’, the variety of sounds and combinations that people perceive are as widespread as the condition. The onset and cause is as varied as the sounds people hear, but some common descriptions include a ringing, roaring, or hissing sensation. Regardless of how it began and what it sounds like, tinnitus can range from a bothersome condition to a debilitating one, impacting not only the day–to–day lives of the individuals affected, but their families and loved ones as well.
Devices for Tinnitus Relief
The majority of people with tinnitus also have some degree of hearing loss. For this reason, amplification not only treats the hearing impairment but is also among the most effective tools for tinnitus relief. The use of an externally produced sound to cover up, inhibit, or alter the production of tinnitus can offer some relief for individuals with tinnitus. This is called “masking”, and it is a customizable feature available in most hearing aids today. Hearing aids may also help by amplifying speech and background sounds to reduce tinnitus noise and potentially mask it. In addition, hearing aids may help by relieving the stress associated with the adverse impact of hearing loss on communication abilities and social interactions. Devices called tinnitus maskers are also available for individuals who suffer from tinnitus without hearing loss.
Another solution available for those who suffer with chronic and continuous tinnitus is the Levo System. Through a series of interactive activities, the precise sound of your tinnitus will be identified, giving you the means to understand and demonstrate to others the sound you live with. Your unique sound is then used to create an individualized therapy for you to use at home while you sleep. For more information on the Levo System, click here.