Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom usually described as a “noise” in the ears or head that does not come from the external environment. Tinnitus awareness levels can range from annoying to debilitating. It is important to remember that the symptom has many potential causes and is quite common. According to the American Tinnitus Association, more than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to a greater or lesser degree.

Common causes Among a range of others, common causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, aging, head injury, stress, anxiety, dental issues, medications and ear disorders. It is important to note that the causes of tinnitus can be physical and / or neurological.

Luckily, treatment is available. As one of the most well recognized tinnitus specialists in the state of New Jersey, we are here to identify and treat tinnitus patients of all ages.

A precise evaluation Our complete tinnitus evaluation is focused on determining the source and nature of the problem. Our primary goal is to evaluate the status of the auditory system using not only high frequency audiometry up to 20,000Hz, but we will also try to match the pitch and volume of the tinnitus, uncomfortable loudness levels, as well as the presence of tinnitus habituation (relief). There are also several questionnaires to be filled out in order for the Doctor of Audiology to get a better handle on the effects of tinnitus on daily life. This provides information that can be used to establish treatment protocols. Tinnitus evaluation appointments generally are a minimum of one hour and are necessary for the creation for a customized program for successful habituation. Based on the results of this extensive tinnitus evaluation, further testing by a physician may be indicated as a first step.

Treatments tailored to your unique situation If hearing loss is detected during the course of your tinnitus evaluation, hearing aids may be recommended. Hearing aids alone may prove to be enough to decrease a person’s awareness of their tinnitus. Most additional tinnitus treatments require that the hearing loss be treated as a prerequisite or at least in combination with the treatments. Many of today’s advanced hearing aids have tinnitus programs as options. The programming of the devices is the key. Our audiologists have developed many different programming techniques to combat tinnitus awareness.

If hearing loss is not the cause of the tinnitus, you are not a candidate for a hearing aid, or a hearing aid is not providing enough relief, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is available. During the course of this therapy, patients learn to filter out the effect of the tinnitus using an ear level masker to greatly decrease the extent to which they notice it. This therapy also helps improve and restore sensitivity to sound (hyperacousis).

Another treatment called the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment is also available. It takes the principles of TRT but uses a customized music based device to stimulate the auditory pathway to promote neural plastic changes. Over time, these new connections help the brain to filter out tinnitus disturbance providing long term relief of symptoms. This patented treatment method is FDA approved. Dr. Jennifer Elfert was the first provider in the state of New Jersey for the Neuromonics Treatment.

Additional treatments are available using customized sound treatments, maskers, and various other “tips” we have discovered through the years. We can also assist in developing a collaborative medical team approach to include cognitive therapy, biofeedback and psychiatric services. Rest assured, with each new treatment that becomes available, we stay at the forefront.

If you’ve been told to “just live with it” you don’t have to! Want to learn more? Call any of our offices. We will be happy to send you formal Tinnitus questionnaires and schedule a full tinnitus evaluation.