Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears when there's no actual sound. It happens when your brain interprets spontaneous nerve activity as real sound. Tinnitus usually doesn't signal a serious health problem, but it is a symptom of some unhealthiness in your hearing system.
Most people will experience tinnitus on occasion. If you experience it constantly or if becomes bothersome, see your primary care doctor, who can help determine the cause. Your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist or to an audiologist.
Causes of Tinnitus
- Ear infections and sinus infections
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noise
- Some medications
- Noise-induced hearing loss
Treatment for Tinnitus at Rush
It's important to recognize that, for the most part, there is no cure or proven medical treatment for tinnitus. But these treatments can be effective in reducing the effect tinnitus can have on your life. Because both the cause and the experience of tinnitus can vary greatly from one person to another, your tinnitus management plans will be tailored to your specific needs.
Because the experience of tinnitus is different for each individual, we're dedicated to developing personalized strategies that help to minimize the negative affect tinnitus may be having on sleep, concentration, relaxation and communication as well.
Treatment may include the following:
- Evidence-based education: A thorough understanding of tinnitus will begin to give you control over this symptom. When you know the facts, tinnitus becomes less important and less likely to be a bothersome presence in your life.
- Sound therapies: When individually prescribed, sound therapies can provide immediate relief from your tinnitus. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can also be helpful for people with both hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Cognitive-based training: Learning to make changes in the way you think about and respond to tinnitus can alleviate the suffering associated with it. When you can make positive changes in how you respond to tinnitus, you will feel less distressed by it and be able to function better.
- Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication can help address the social and emotional effects of tinnitus.
Rush Excellence in Tinnitus Care
- Quality of life needs assessment: We'll measure how much tinnitus is impacting different aspects of your life, including sleep, concentration, relaxation and communication. These initial measures will also allow us to track your progress over time.
- Holistic approach to body and mind: For some individuals suffering from tinnitus, anxiety, depression or insomnia may be obstacles to successful management. For this reason, your care team will also include experienced, highly-trained psychologists who will help you acquire the skills you need to minimize the negative experience of tinnitus. Depending on your need, treatment may include cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness therapies.
- Access to the latest technology: All of our audiologists at Rush have doctorate degrees, are licensed in the state, and hold clinical certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. As teachers and researchers, we're able to bring the latest advances in audiology to you.
- Accessible care, convenient locations: Rush audiologists provide tinnitus services at several Rush locations, including Chicago, Oak Brook and South Loop.