Tinnitus Clinic in Vancouver

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can be caused by many things and is a sign of an underlying health condition. Tinnitus can be a major annoyance, depending on the severity and the effects it can cause in your life. It is not a disease but is often a sign of an underlying condition which is causing the noise to be present in your ears.

Tinnitus Symptoms

The symptoms of tinnitus include a noise being heard in your ear when no external source is present. Some of these noises can be:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Whistling
  • Hizzing
  • Humming
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Heartbeat

The volume of the noise can fluctuate, and the sounds are most often heard at night or when it is quiet. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go throughout your life.

Tinnitus Causes

Tinnitus isn’t a disease; it is a symptom of an underlying health condition. To determine what the underlying cause of your tinnitus is you may undergo several tests, including a physical exam, hearing and nerve tests or imaging such as an MRI or a CT scan. Be sure to inform the audiologist about any medications you are taking as tinnitus could be a side effect of some drugs.

Damage to the inner ear hair is the most common cause of tinnitus, but there are many other causes including excessive ear wax, age-related hearing loss, chronic health conditions, or an ear infection. It is important to know that in many cases the cause of tinnitus can never be found.

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Management of Tinnitus

Management of tinnitus may include treatment of tinnitus alone, and/or in conjunction with hearing loss, hyperacusis, assessment of motivation.

Structured therapies include Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), SoundOptions, Neuromonics, Progressive Tinnitus Training, and other non-structured approaches such as cognitive and behavioural based therapies.

Therapies include:

The goal of sound therapy is to reduce tinnitus audibility by increasing the level of external sounds.

a) Sound Options

At Sound Hearing Clinic Inc, we encourage our clients to trial sound conditioning. If sound conditioning proves successful in the suppression of tinnitus, we then encourage our clients to consider www.SoundOptions.ca as an evidence-based treatment method.

a) Sound Options

At Sound Hearing Clinic Inc, we encourage our clients to trial sound conditioning. If sound conditioning proves successful in the suppression of tinnitus, we then encourage our clients to consider www.SoundOptions.ca as an evidence-based treatment method.

b) Tinnitus Masking

This is meant for clients with normal hearing. The goal is to make tinnitus inaudible or change its characteristics to become non-bothersome. There is little data to support use, and it is refused by up to 50% of clients. It should always be accompanied/offered with counselling.

c) Tinnitus Retraining Therapy

This therapy attempts to eliminate the negative feelings associated with tinnitus. It aims to habituate the client to tinnitus with the goal to ensure tinnitus does not interfere with the client’s life. It begins with a period of habituation and informal counselling (18-24mos) and sound enrichment, followed by directive counselling. Third is a phase of sound enrichment followed by outcome measurement. There has only been one low-quality controlled study that showed its benefit over masking.

d) Progressive Audiologic Tinnitus Management

There are three objectives to PATM. 1) Soothing sound to produce stress relief (environmental sound), 2) to passively divert attention from tinnitus (music), and 3) sound to actively divert attention from tinnitus (speech). It involves extensive counselling.

e) Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment (Paul Davis)

This treatment uses a broadband sound stimulus using Neuromonics processor two hours/day for six months. Cost is approximately $4-5000 USD for devices and sessions. There is one study: mean improvement of 74% after 1 year.

f) Amplification

Anecdotally, it is well known that ambient noise can make tinnitus less audible and divert attention to external sounds. Two studies – one showed “strongly positive results” (Trotter and Donaldson, 2008); and a second showed “slight reduction of prominence” (Noble 2008). Hearing instruments would serve to amplify background noise (counselling) and use many programs (quiet and normal), open-fit where possible, low knee point, expansion and noise-reduction off, automatic volume control, DSL preferred because it provides greater low-intensity/low-frequency amplification.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

These therapies consist of relaxation (deep breathing 3×3/day; yoga; tai chi); imaging; cognitive restructuring; exposure to exacerbating situations; and self-help groups.

Diet

Alcohol exacerbates tinnitus. Vitamin deficiency (zinc, niacin) may also exacerbate tinnitus. Herbal remedies: ginkgo biloba (decreases stress, increases memory – helps tinnitus in rats, controversial in humans). Acupuncture: no consistent benefit.

Positive Counselling

Often discussing feelings evoked by tinnitus is helpful. Many people find that the tinnitus gets better over time with no treatment whatsoever. You should discuss how to make your tinnitus less of a problem for you with your audiologist. Discussion of stressors in one’s life is often helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can others hear my tinnitus?

Most of the time, only the people who has tinnitus can hear the noise, this is called subjective tinnitus and it is most common. However, in some cases, the audiologist hear hear the noise if they put a stethoscope up to the ear, called objective hearing.

What should I do if I’m affected by tinnitus?

Sudden noises in your ears will usually disappear on their own. If the noise lasts longer than 24 hours, contact our clinic so you can meet with one of our audiologists.

How long does tinnitus last?

Tinnitus may briefly occur then disappear, remain for a few months or it may last a lifetime.

Is tinnitus harmful?

Tinnitus is not harmful from a medical perspective, but it may affect the mind.

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Sound Hearing Clinic

  Address:
207-1160 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2E8

  Phone:
604-260-1894

  Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday: 9:00am to 12pm, 1pm to 5pm