DO I HAVE TINNITUS?

Have you ever heard a ringing in your ears? If so, you have experienced tinnitus. Tinnitus can be annoying, inconvenient, or even painful for the many people who suffer from it. Interestingly, some people never really notice symptoms of tinnitus, even though they are experiencing it. Recent research indicates that people have varying experiences of tinnitus, and these symptoms originate in the brain, not the ears.

A study done at the University of Illinois found that the brains of people with tinnitus hear sounds differently than those who don’t have tinnitus. Even among tinnitus sufferers, there are differences the way peoples’ brains process sound.

What Exactly is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is actually just a symptom (not a disorder or disease). There are a lot of different causes of tinnitus, like noise exposure or use of ototoxic medications (medications that cause hearing loss). Approximately 25 million people across America are affected by tinnitus. There is no cure for tinnitus, and it is often temporary. It’s important to understand how to manage it and lessen its effects, or if possible, prevent it entirely.

Tinnitus Can be Affected by Your Feelings

Recent studies have found that the brain’s blood oxygen levels can change when exposed to different types of noise. Researchers discovered differences in the way tinnitus sufferer’s brains processed sound compared with non-tinnitus sufferers. “Good” sounds, like laughter, were presented, along with “neutral” and “unpleasant” sounds.

The Brain and Emotions

People with tinnitus engage with sounds differently in their brains, which can trigger emotion. Not so with people without tinnitus. The study also found that tinnitus sufferers who complain the most process emotional noise in different parts of the brain than the people who did not think the symptoms were bothersome.

This can explain why some people are very bothered by tinnitus, and others are not. This shows that the symptoms distress some people more than others.

Insomnia. irritability, depression, mood swings, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts have been reportedly caused by tinnitus. Some people merely report it as a minor irritant or even say it doesn’t trouble them at all. The people who are less bothered by tinnitus generally process emotion in the brain’s frontal lobe, while others process emotions in the brain’s amygdala.

Treatment Options for Tinnitus

This study helps explain why tinnitus is more bothersome to some people and not others. It may also help scientists to come up with more effective treatments that can target the cause of this suffering.

Hearing loss and tinnitus are often connected, but even people with normal hearing can have tinnitus. If you begin to experience tinnitus symptoms a trip to your audiologist is a good idea, and may help to prevent hearing loss. Hearing technology with sound therapy tools are shown to help ease the symptoms of tinnitus and hearing aids can also be an option for those who suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your needs and budget.

WHAT ARE INVISIBLE HEARING AIDS?

When deciding to get hearing aids for the first time, many people list their top concern is how they look, and what people will think of them when they notice the hearing aids.

The stigma attached to having hearing aids can be a big deterrent to getting them at all.

If you could get all of the benefits of hearing aids: better communication, easier hearing, noise cancelling…and the hearing aids themselves were invisible, would that change your perspective?  

Well, now this is not just a daydream. Invisible hearing aids have become a reality, and they are helping more people than ever improve their hearing without the self-consciousness and stigma attached to using hearing aids.

Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are now available and once inserted, are practically invisible to everyone.

The Benefits of IIC Hearing Aids:

They’re invisible. IICs are so tiny that once inserted in the ear canal, they are not noticeable or visible. Because they are so small, they fit deep into the ear canal and most people will not be able to see them. If the stigma of hearing aids has been stopping you from getting them, IICs could be right for you.

They’re comfortable. Because IICs fit so snugly deep within the ear canal, they don’t trap sound and cause an echoing called the occulusion effect like larger hearing aids can. Sounds are more natural, less hollow, less distorted.

They preserve battery life. The power output for IICs is lower than other hearing aids because they sit so close to the ear drum. This proximity to the ear drum also effectively prevents feedback, especially when talking on the phone. 

The sound quality is superior. Natural sound quality is another benefit of IICs. It sits so deep in your ear canal that it is can leverage the natural acoustics of your ear to funnel sound, giving it a more natural tone as a result.  There are no tubes or wires, so there is nothing to block the sound. An easier adjustment to using hearing aids has been reported, as well as better localization of sound.

IICs do have some drawbacks, however, which should weigh into the decision you make.

The Drawbacks of IIC Hearing Aids:

They only have one microphone. Most hearing aids are larger, so they can support multiple microphones, which allows for advanced directionality (the ability to focus on a sound in a certain direction and reduce background noise in that direction). Because IICs are so tiny, they can only support one microphone and therefore cannot offer the same directionality.

They preserve energy, but can only support very small batteries. The small size of IICs can only support a smaller battery that is depleted more rapidly than the larger batteries of other devices. The battery will therefore require more frequent charging.

IICs cannot accommodate severe hearing loss. People with mild to moderate hearing loss will benefit most from IICs. The small size can only offer limited capabilities.

IICs don’t fit some people’s ears. Occasionally IICs don’t work for people because of the shape of their ears. People with short ear canals or that are small or of an irregular shape may not be able to use IICs.

While IIC hearing devices are a marvel of modern technology and can be the perfect solution for some, especially people with mild to moderate hearing loss who are worried about bulky hearing aids, they are not right for everyone. Consult with your audiologist to weigh the pros and cons before deciding one way or the other.  

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.