Tinnitus Treatment in St. Louis

Tinnitus — also known as ‘ringing in the ears’ is the frequent experience of bothersome sounds inside the head.

Tinnitus (also known as ‘ringing in the ears’) is the frequent experience of bothersome sounds inside the head. The condition is very common, effecting 44 million Americans and is the most common injury for our armed service men and women. Others cannot hear the sounds that are described as ringing, buzzing, or chirping but for individuals with tinnitus, the sounds are very real and perceived as a threat to their well-being. For these people, it interferes with their daily work and even with their sleep. Often associated with tinnitus, but also can be experienced alone, hyperacusis can be equally disruptive. Hyperacusis is the condition in which ordinary sounds seem uncomfortably loud or painful. In both tinnitus or hyperacusis, the causes can vary which emphasizes the need for a thorough evaluation by an audiologist.

Recent studies show that with 80% of tinnitus cases there is also a hearing loss.

Often just addressing the underlying hearing loss can alleviate the ringing in the ears. Sound masking and sound therapy is known to provide relief. Many of today’s best hearing aids have sound masking features programmed in to the device. Our tinnitus treatment is highly personal and customized. We carefully evaluate the auditory system and medical history to determine whether or not medical intervention is warranted. We evaluate the effects of tinnitus and/or hyperacusis on your quality of life. We inform and provide recommendations to make tinnitus and/or hyperacusis less bothersome. We will work with you to determine the optimal treatment.

What Causes Tinnitus?

There is no single cause for tinnitus.

In cases where tinnitus is linked with hearing loss, hearing specialists identify damage to the hair cells of the inner ear as a potential cause. Exposure to loud noises over extended periods of time, or short traumatic noise events such as explosions or gunfire as in combat zones, are also causes for permanent damage to inner ear cells, which may lead to tinnitus. Inner ear hair cells do not regenerate, and when damaged, may send phantom signals to the brain to be registered as sound.

Problems with bones of the ear may lead to tinnitus, as well as earwax blockage in the ear canal. Scientists have identified that certain aminoglycoside antibiotic drugs also case damage to hair cells of the inner ear, which may also lead to tinnitus.

Other causes include problems with the cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure, causing the veins of the head and neck area around the ear to constrict blood flow.

Is There a Cure?

There is no singular cure. With temporary cases, tinnitus may cut in and out without warning. In chronic cases, people may experience ringing, buzzing or hissing consistently day in and day out. Depending on the cause of tinnitus, a change in medication, lifestyle, or diet may help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms. Removing impacted earwax may also help, if that is the cause. In cases where tinnitus is linked with hearing loss, treating hearing loss with hearing aids equipped with tinnitus therapy may help to reduce or mask the symptoms. There are hearing devices that offer specific therapy for tinnitus, in the form of soothing sounds.

Types of Tinnitus Explained

There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Both of these types may be temporary or chronic. Depending on the type, your audiologist may be able to identify the underlying cause.

Subjective Tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus is heard only by the person who experiences it. Subjective tinnitus is often linked to medication, impacted earwax, ear malfunctions and disease, or hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises, in single or repeated events, may also cause subjective tinnitus.

Objective Tinnitus

Objective tinnitus is heard by both the person who experiences it as well as someone sitting in close proximity. Objective tinnitus is most commonly caused by problems with the body’s somatic system, due to problems with blood flow. Pulsatile tinnitus is a case in which the noises are in sync with the heartbeat.