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Helpful Tips for Understanding and Managing Your Tinnitus


Developed by the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the Portland VA Medical Center and funded by the Joint Incentive Fund (JIF), this video introduces the condition of tinnitus. It also discusses steps that tinnitus sufferers can take to cope with the condition, prevent the condition from worsening, and reduce the severity of the symptoms to ensure they do not cause depression, anxiety or other secondary issues.

Can you hear that? Can you hear it? Now pay close attention. Can you hear this sound? I hear it. I hear it. Me too. I hear it all the time. Everywhere I go, it doesn’t go away. You can’t cover your ears. You cannot hide from it. What is tinnitus? Is a ringing in your ears that sometimes will not stop.

If you hear a ringing, buzzing, hissing, or other sound in your ears or head that never seems to go way, you may have tinnitus. A common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud sounds. Other causes of tinnitus include: head or neck injuries, untreated medical conditions such as high blood pressure, and certain medications. Anything that contributes to hearing loss can also cause or worsen tinnitus. If you experience tinnitus, here are a few things that you should do. Protect your ears from loud sounds such as gunfire, machinery, power tools, and loud music. If you are around these types of sounds, wear hearing protection devices. Or if you can, move away from the source of the sound, or turn it down.

Being in a quiet setting tends to make you notice your tinnitus more. Try adding pleasant sounds such as music, nature sounds, relaxation CDs, even audio books, to any quiet environment. Use whatever works to listen to these sounds – speakers, earphones, radios, MP3 players, or iPods. Small in the ear sound generating devices, often referred to as maskers, also are available.

Get a hearing evaluation from an audiologist. Hearing loss and tinnitus often go hand in hand and an audiologist can detect any hearing loss that should be addressed. If you have significant hearing loss, hearing aids often help to reduce the perception of tinntus and also improve your ability to hear and communicate. The audiologist can also determine if you need to see an ear, noise, and throat physician. A physician can identify problems that can be treated medically. Many people who experience tinnitus do not require any healthcare services. They are able to ignore their tinnitus most of the time and it does not normally interfere with their daily activities, sleep, or enjoyment of life. However, if your tinnitus is bothersome to you, you should make an appointment with an audiologist. People who suffer from severe tinnitus can also suffer from depression, stress, anxiety, and fatigue. These issues can form a vicious circle of symptoms with each one making the others worse. If you experience anxiety, depression or sleep problems, along with tinnitus, then seek help from a qualified professional. Effective management for these conditions can help people to feel better and reduce the severity of their tinnitus.

For more information, contact your audiologist, physician, or the American Tinnitus Association.

Quick Fact


Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is often the first sign of hearing loss.

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