Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the term used to describe hearing any sounds which are not present externally. It is most commonly heard as ringing, hissing, buzzing or clicking, and can be a single sound or a number of different sounds.

What is tinnitus?

Research has shown that almost everyone develops temporary tinnitus in an abnormally quiet environment (such as a soundproof booth).

An increased awareness of this condition usually occurs because it changes in some way and becomes louder, or more frequently present. This is most commonly associated with the development of a hearing loss or either a change in hearing.

Tinnitus can develop from a range of medical conditions affecting the auditory system, including tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS), certain medications and neurological conditions. It can develop from stress affecting the jaw joint and be enhanced by periods of high stress and fatigue.

However, it can become significant if:

  • it becomes perceived as intrusive, irritating or distressing
  • there is an increase in active tinnitus monitoring
  • people doubt their ability to cope with their tinnitus
  • they develop high levels of tinnitus-related anxiety/distress.

DWM Audiologist, Myriam Westcott, and a leading neuroscientist were interviewed for the ABC Radio National Health Report on tinnitus. This interview included a discussion with someone who suffers from the condition currently, and what her experience has been. 

Myriam Westcott was also interviewed for The Saturday Paper on the increased level of people suffering from tinnitus and the impact the pandemic has had.

Habituation

Most people will spontaneously habituate or adapt to their tinnitus over time. This means, while it may be heard, attention is rarely given to it and emotional acceptance of it is achieved. This process involves a gradual increase in the periods of time where the tinnitus is not noticed, as well as a gradual reduction in any annoyance or distress it may cause.

Sometimes people can become stuck in this process and are unable to habituate to their tinnitus as fully as they would like. Some people can find it distressing or even traumatic, as they do not know how to control the way it affects them.

Credible therapeutic approaches to tinnitus management aim for general habituation to be the eventual achievement.

Our Program

Myriam Westcott and Kate Moore provide an individualised program to assist you in achieving tinnitus habituation and management of your reaction to it.

Rest assured that any questions or fears you may have around the program will be addressed to ensure you have an understanding of what this process will entail.

Our program involves:

  • an evaluation, so we can assess the impact on you individually
  • taking a thorough look at your history with the condition and associated issues
  • a hearing assessment
  • providing detailed information about your tinnitus – this includes an opinion about the possible cause and some of the factors that affect tinnitus fluctuation
  • a detailed and personalised explanation of the peripheral and central auditory system
  • your hearing test results
  • some information on the neurophysiological basis of tinnitus-related distress and annoyance
  • a personalised, therapy program for managing your tinnitus.

Therapy – Tinnitus Treatment

We will provide you with practical, self-management strategies known to lead to tinnitus habituation. These strategies will be personalised to suit your individual coping style, and will also be developed with you.

This may involve: 

  • the use of hearing aids
  • sound enrichment strategies
  • counselling in cognitive management strategies
  • training in stress management and relaxation

Specific techniques to cope with periods of heightened awareness and/or increased volume of your tinnitus will also be given.

For many people, the information and guidance provided in one appointment may be sufficient to move towards tinnitus habituation. For this reason, our initial appointment time is one and a half hours. 

However, the time involved in a program will vary, depending on the level of your reaction to your tinnitus and the ongoing guidance and support that may be required.

Myriam Westcott is the only clinician in Australia invited to contribute to “The Multidisciplinary European Guideline for Tinnitus: diagnosis assessment and treatment” Cima et al, 2019. Prominent neuroscientists and clinicians in the tinnitus field, as well as tinnitus patients with the condition, contributed to this guideline. This guideline was designed to set worldwide standards for the provision of tinnitus treatment.

Hearing loss

People who suffer from hearing loss often blame their tinnitus for their hearing problemsparticularly when communicating in groups and when they’re in an environment where background noise is prevalent.

Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss, not the cause. If you have hearing loss, then hearing aids will be effective in both the management of your hearing loss and your tinnitus. Hearing aids, by amplifying external sounds around you, will result in your internal noise becoming less noticeable. Programs producing a range of different noises or sounds are now available in a number of contemporary hearing aids.

Straining to hear a conversation results in communication difficulties, which leads to frustration, fatigue and stress. These are all major aggravating factors.

However, once you have adapted to the amplification provided by your hearing aids, you can expect a significant reduction in stress and fatigue.

Book an appointment

To book an appointment to discuss possible tinnitus treatment, get in touch today. 

An audiologist from DWM Audiology giving an explanation of the peripheral and central auditory system to assist with tinnitus treatment

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