If you experience the sounds of ringing in your ear – called tinnitus – you are not alone. In fact, one in ten individuals worldwide are affected by this condition, which can range from mild annoyance to debilitating in nature. During Tinnitus Awareness Week, recognized globally and this year occurring February 6-12, International Hearing Society (IHS) reminds the public that hearing aids may offer a solution.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom that something is wrong in the auditory system, which includes the ear, the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process sound. Something as simple as a piece of earwax blocking the ear canal can cause tinnitus. But it can also be the result of a number of health conditions, such as:
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Ear and sinus infections
- Diseases of the heart or blood vessels
- Ménière’s disease
- Brain tumors
- Hormonal changes in women
- Thyroid abnormalities
Tinnitus is sometimes the first sign of hearing loss in older people. It also can be a side effect of medications. More than 200 drugs are known to cause tinnitus when you start or stop taking them.” https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/tinnitus
Hearing care providers, including many hearing aid specialists, may be able to offer solutions for those with mild or moderate tinnitus. Some hearing aids offer features that can help mask the continuous or occasional noises of tinnitus. If an individual’s tinnitus warrants, hearing care providers can refer a patient to the right medical professional for evaluation and assistance.
IHS encourages those suffering from tinnitus to seek help from a licensed hearing care provider, some of whom can be identified through our free directory: www.ihsinfo.org. More information is also available through the American Tinnitus Association www.ata.org, which runs a help line for those who suffer from tinnitus: 1-800-634-8978.
IHS partner Hearing Health Foundation offers these tinnitus statistics:
- 90 percent of tinnitus cases occur with an underlying hearing loss.
- Tinnitus repeatedly ranks as the number one disability among returning military service members, just ahead of hearing loss.
- 25 million American adults report experiencing tinnitus for five or more continuous minutes in the past year.
- There are no documented cures for tinnitus, but many solutions can help.
- 16 million people seek medical attention for tinnitus annually.
IHS recently held a virtual Tinnitus Care Provider Workshop attended by hearing healthcare professionals from across North America. During the course, these dedicated professionals gain new knowledge and skills to assist tinnitus sufferers.
The course was taught by Richard Tyler, PhD, audiologist from the University of Iowa, and Douglas Lewis, JD, PhD, MBA, AuD, audiologist, attorney, and business owner based in central Ohio. The course provides turnkey tinnitus solutions for hearing aid specialists and audiologists alike.
Dr. Richard Tyler said, “I am so pleased to work with IHS in training more hearing healthcare professionals to assist with tinnitus care. Trained hearing aid specialists play such a vital role in measuring tinnitus, making referrals when needed, and when appropriate, educating patients on how to best manage their tinnitus and provide them with the tools to do so. Tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand-in-hand, though an individual with tinnitus may not realize that they have hearing loss. In fact, hearing aids can be very helpful in managing tinnitus, and the IHS Tinnitus Care Provider program educates hearing healthcare professionals on using hearing aids and other tools to best serve the 1 in 10 adults suffering from tinnitus.”
Hearing aid specialist, Tinnitus Care ProviderTM certificate holder, and IHS Treasurer Leanne Polhill, BA, BC-HIS, said, “My training in tinnitus has given me the knowledge and confidence to competently address my patients with tinnitus – providing them the tools they need to feel more empowered, hopeful, and able to cope; and to identify and refer when medical intervention may be necessary.”
To find a hearing aid specialist near you to determine whether you have hearing loss or hearing aids may be helpful, visit www.ihsinfo.org.