Deafness/Hearing Impairment/Tinnitus

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Question
Dear Dr.Linton,

I have permanent tinnitus in my left ear, and although it doesn't bother me I was wondering what you may suggest to try and mask the sound a bit. Also is it possible to make the tinnitus worse with regards to the volume of the tinnitus? The buzzing I have is pretty loud and I was at live gig last week. My view is that as I have it 24/7 i'm not going to make it any worse? That doesn't mean I go out to bars and gigs all the time as I don't. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your time,

Answer
Victoria,

Tinnitus is a symptom of something going on with your ears.  Usually the reason is hearing loss in that ear.  It is always a good idea to have it evaluated by an audiologist just to verify there are no other unusual symptoms that might indicate something more serious.

If you have it checked out and it is determined that you are just going to have tinnitus in your ears, then there isn't much to do except learn to live with it, try to ignore it and avoid anything that might make it worse (and there are LOTS of things that can make it louder and more frequent).

Masking it is a good way to cope if it is detrimental to daily life.  There are hearing aid-type devices you can wear which will mask it all day.  At night the best thing is a fan or radio to help mask it.  Trying not to focus on it is another optimal way to copy during the day...this is hard at times, but the more you focus on it the worse it will get.  It is fueled by the mind so anxiety about the noise and focus on the noise will indeed make it worse and make it last longer.

Things that make it more intense are: nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, stress, anxiety, not enough sleep, too much sleep, and many medications.  If you start any medication and you feel the tinnitus increases, please let your Dr know right away so they can monitor or change the medication.  Of course, causing more hearing loss or ear damage will definitely cause the tinnitus to get louder and more frequent.  So concerts or loud music venues can make the tinnitus permanently louder.  Wear earplugs (musician plugs if you want to enjoy a concert)anytime you are around potentially loud sounds.

Thank you for your question.

Kelley Linton, AuD
Doctor of Audiology    centerforhearing.net  

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

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Dr. Kelley Linton

Expertise

I'm an audiologist in private practice in Arkansas. I graduated from the University of Florida medical school. I specialize in hearing loss; hearing rehabilitation; hearing aids; noise induced hearing loss; occupational noise exposure; OSHA guidelines and regulations; hearing protection; tinnitis; newborn hearing testing; children and hearing loss and diagnosis and etiology of hearing loss.

Experience

I've been a practicing audiologist for 20 years and have owned a private practice for 14 years. I am also an audiologist in the United States Army where I teach DOD hearing conservation regulations and manage 3000 DOD employees at an army industrial facility.

Organizations
Arkansas Academy of Audiology American Academy of Audiology Academy of Doctors of Audiology American Speech and Hearing Association National Hearing Conservation Association

Publications
Journal of the Academy of Audiology Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Arkansas Press Argus Courier, Van Buren, Arkansas

Education/Credentials
Au.D. - Doctor of Audiology, University of Florida American Academy of Audiology fellow member Audiology Board Certification American Speech and Hearing Association certification Arkansas State Audiology license-current CPT United States Army Medical Corps

Awards and Honors
American Speech and Hearing Association "ACE" award x 7 years United States Army Accommodation Award Arkansas Academy of Audiology elected board of director x 3 years Better community award, Fort Smith, AR for volunteer audiology service to free community health clinic

Past/Present Clients
Serving newborn to geriatric ages.....unable to provide specific names.

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