Tinnitus is the perception of
sound in the human ear or head in the absence of an external sound. Tinnitus is
usually described as “ringing”, “roaring” or “buzzing”. The characterization of
tinnitus varies for every individual. It may continually occur or be
intermittent; it may be annoying or debilitating to an individual. Tinnitus is
commonly associated with damage to the auditory system; however; it is common
for normal hearing individuals to experience this as well. Researchers have yet
to determine the exact cause of tinnitus, but there are theories whether the
pathology is within the inner ear, in the brain, or both.
At the moment there are no
absolute cures for tinnitus. The common
non-medical treatment for tinnitus suffers is masking. Masking is performed by
producing an external sound that masks the tinnitus. Maskers include sound
machines that play the masking noise in the surrounding area or a device,
similar to a hearing aid, which plays masking sounds into the listener’s ear.
Other treatments include Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), relaxation therapy,
cognitive behavioral therapy, and vitamin/nutrient therapy. Also, avoidance of
loud noises, salt, caffeine, and nicotine may help to reduce tinnitus.