Tinnitus

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Information from: ncrar.research.va.gov

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What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is humming, ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears or head.

What causes tinnitus?

The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise. Tinnitus can also be caused by head injury, medications, ear wax -and many other causes. For many people it is impossible to know the exact cause of tinnitus.

Is there a cure for tinnitus?

A “cure” would be some way to make the tinnitus sound stop. Right now, there is no safe and consistent way to quiet tinnitus. However, there are many ways to feel better without making tinnitus quieter.

How can I feel better without making my tinnitus quieter?

You can feel better by learning how to change your reactions to tinnitus – or by learning to manage your reactions to tinnitus. It is also important to exercise and eat right.

How can I manage my reactions to tinnitus?

  • First, sound can be used in many different ways to manage reactions to tinnitus.
    Soothing sound can help you feel better without making the tinnitus quieter.
    Interesting or entertaining sounds can help you get your mind off of your tinnitus.
    Background sounds make it easier for your tinnitus to be ignored. You can learn to develop your own custom plan for using sound to help you any time tinnitus is a problem.
  • Second, there are methods to help you relax. Many people say stress makes their tinnitus seem louder. You can learn relaxation exercises that will help you feel better.
  • Third, you can plan pleasant activities even when your tinnitus is bothering you. Pleasant activities can help you enjoy life and help you get your mind off of your tinnitus.
  • Fourth, what you think affects how you feel. You can change the way you think about your tinnitus from “there’s no hope for my tinnitus” to thoughts like “I’m learning about new ways to feel better without making my tinnitus quieter.” With practice, changing your thoughts and attitudes can help you feel better. Ask your audiologist where to get help coming up with new ways to think about your tinnitus.

Can drugs help?

All drugs used for tinnitus were actually developed for other problems – like depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Some of these drugs can improve your mood. A better mood can help to make tinnitus less of a problem. In rare cases, a certain drug may also reduce the loudness of tinnitus. However, drugs also can make tinnitus louder. Any use of drugs for tinnitus involves trial-and-error. Because of possible side effects, the use of drugs should be approached with caution.

Does my tinnitus make it harder for me to hear?

Many people have hearing problems along with tinnitus. Some people think that the tinnitus causes their hearing problems – which is not true (hearing loss is the cause of hearing problems). If you have tinnitus or hearing problems, you should have a hearing test.

What should I do about my tinnitus?

Start by getting a hearing test (and hearing aids if needed). Hearing aids can help with a hearing problem by amplifying sounds. Amplifying sounds can also help with tinnitus. Most people say that they notice their tinnitus less when they are wearing hearing aids.

What if I need more help?

If you need more help, find an audiologist who has experience working with people who have tinnitus. The VA provides an approach for helping Veterans manage their tinnitus.

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Resources for Tinnitus

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San Diego VA Health Care System
Please contact your Primary Care Provider or member of the OEF/OIF Care Team for treatment options available at the San Diego VA.

Primary Care Line:
(858) 552-7475

OEF/OIF Care Team Contacts:

Mission Valley & Chula Vista :
Bridget Salzman, MSW
(619) 400-5271

La Jolla:
Rikka Bonnette, LCSW
(858) 642-3615

Oceanside:
Patrick O’Shea, MSW
(760) 643-2079
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American Tinnitus Association
800-634-8978
ata.org

Treatment information and explanation of the treatments for tinnitus.
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MyHealtheVet
myhealth.va.gov

To learn more about hearing and speech evaluation and treatment visit our on-line health resource center.
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Living With Hearing Loss Class
Location: Medical Center La Jolla, 1st Floor Patient Education Classroom (Room 1493)
Information/Registration: (858) 552-8585 x7564 or Toll-Free: 1-800-331-8387 (VETS) x7564.
Ask your provider to enroll you in this class by sending a consult to “Audiology.”
Please contact the Audiology department for dates and times as they may vary

sandiego.va.gov/patients/patientedclasses.asp

This class is required for Veterans who are issued a hearing aid through the VA. Attendance is strongly encouraged for anyone who has a hearing loss, or has difficulty communicating with a person with hearing loss. Family members are welcome.