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Tinnitus Management

Tinnitus Management

The goal of tinnitus management (or tinnitus therapy) is not to eliminate tinnitus but relief of psychological symptoms such as insomnia, distraction at work, sadness etc., caused by tinnitus. Audiologists would conduct tinnitus evaluation for chronic tinnitus suffers and customized an individualized management plan for each patients for tinnitus relief. Below are some of the management methods:

1) Progress Tinnitus Management (PTM)

Use of individualized masker sounds delivered through an ear level masking device to distract suffers for their tinnitus reduced the induced negative emotions.

2) Relaxation Therapy

By listening to natural soothing sounds such as tidal waves, forest, raining, to reduce mental stress.

3) Sound Therapy

By playing external sounds the patients like or interested in (delivered through mobile app, table sound generator, radio, pillow player etc.) to reduce the tinnitus to background sound ratio, with a view to alleviate mental alertness and induce distraction to better concentrate at work or easier to fall into sleep at night.

4) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Evaluation and re-framing of thoughts, emotions, and behavior towards tinnitus.

Length of tinnitus rehabilitation lasts from 6 to 12 months, which varies among individual. As soon as one no longer annoyed by his/her tinnitus, the rehabilitation sessions could be discontinued.

Audiologists from Otic Hearing and Speech Centre are passionate to provide professional audiological service to the public. Our tinnitus rehabilitation services were collaborated by professional members of the British Tinnitus Association. In 2012, we became part of the European Tinnitus Research Initiative to strengthen our evidence-based clinical tinnitus rehabilitation services.

Tinnitus

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Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external source is present. Approximately 10% of the Hong Kong population (700,000) have experienced tinnitus at some point. Tinnitus is often referred to as “ringing in the ears”, some people may describe it as hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking sound(s). Tinnitus characteristics varies, it can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones, loudness can range from subtle to shattering or changes according to the surrounding background noise. Besides, it can occur monaurally, binaurally or centrally in the head.  Tinnitus could co-exist with hyperacusis. Hyperacusis refers to an abnormal oversensitivity or discomfort when exposed to loud sounds commonly encountered in everyday life.

Common Causes of Tinnitus:

Despite the exact physiological cause(s) of tinnitus are not fully revealed, there are several pathologies likely to trigger or worsen the condition of tinnitus. Pathologies relating to tinnitus require proper clinical assessments from specialists like ENT doctors and audiologists.

Hearing loss

Ear wax build-up in the ear canal

Certain medication e.g., antibiotics, chemotherapy drug, anti-depressants, anti-allergic drugs, diuretics etc.

Ear and/or sinus infections

Eustachian tube dysfunction

Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC)

Meniere’s disease

Acoustic neuroma

Head and neck trauma

How is tinnitus evaluated?

Chronic tinnitus sufferers should consult an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) for medical assessments to rule out any pathological causes of tinnitus. If tinnitus still exists after medical intervention or no pathological causes found, patients can undergo hearing and tinnitus evaluation conducted by an audiologist.

Tinnitus evaluation includes the following tests:

Otoscopy Evaluate ear canal and/or ear drum status
Pure Tone Audiometry Assess the hearing sensitivity and nature of impairment (if any)
Otoacoustic Emissions Assess the inner ear cochlear outer hair cell function
Tinnitus pitch matching, To approximate the pitch of the tinnitus
Tinnitus loudness matching To closely match tinnitus loudness
Minimum masking level determination To verify whether the tinnitus is maskable
Loudness discomfort level determination Access loudness tolerance levels