Tinnitus Archives - Peninsula Hearing Services

Hearing Research

Hearing Research If you suffer from hearing loss, you are likely to wonder what  hearing research is being done by medical science.   And how is hearing research being conducted?The hearing organ and complex nerves that allow one to hear are located deep inside the brain.  While imaging techniques such Read more

Hearing Aid Batteries

Hearing Aid Batteries Hearing devices can be life-changing, but they can’t help you if the hearing aid batteries are dead. Hearing device users know when they hear that little beeping noise, they’d better have a spare pack of batteries handy. Hearing aid batteries typically last between 3-7 days, depending on factors like:The type Read more

Can Hearing Be Restored?

Can Hearing Be Restored With so many medical advances in the 21st century, individuals with hearing loss yearn to know…can hearing be restored?  It is tempting to feel left-behind if you are hearing impaired.  The weight loss industry is rife with a dizzying number of commercials, books and advertisements Read more

Severity of Tinnitus Related to Emotional Sounds

Severity of Tinnitus Related to Emotional Sounds A research study out of the University of Illinois has suggested that the severity of tinnitus related to emotional sounds.  Not only do those with severe tinnitus process emotions differenty in the brain compared to those who report the severe tinnitus but also Read more

Severity of Tinnitus Related to Emotional Sounds

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Severity of Tinnitus Related to Emotional Sounds

A research study out of the University of Illinois has suggested that the severity of tinnitus related to emotional sounds.  Not only do those with severe tinnitus process emotions differenty in the brain compared to those who report the severe tinnitus but also that among those who have tinnitus, there are significant differences in which regions of the brain are used when processing emotions.


brain processing

Not a disease in and of itself, tinnitus is usually a symptom of another underlying health condition or the result of trauma such as exposure to loud noise or ototoxic medications. Basically, tinnitus is the perception of sound such as ringing or buzzing in one or both ears when no sound is present. And that perception of sound means that the brain is a key player in the presence and severity of tinnitus.

“We are trying to understand how the brain adapts to having tinnitus for a very long time,” said Fatima Husain, University of Illinois speech and hearing science and neuroscience professor who led the research team.

The research study was especially significant given that, according to the NIDCD, 25 million people in the U.S. have experienced tinnitus symptoms lasting at least five minutes in the past year. There is no “cure” for tinnitus, only treatments and therapies that can reduce the severity of the condition.

Tinnitus and emotional sounds

During the study, the researchers used MRI brain imaging analysis to see changes in blood oxygen levels in the brain. Researchers first looked at the brain activity of those with tinnitus versus those without. When exposed to different types of sounds the results of the fMRIs showed those with tinnitus had greater engagement in different areas of the brain when exposed to emotion-triggering sounds than those without tinnitus.

The second round of fMRI revealed to researchers that those with less severe tinnitus, i.e. those who reported lower tinnitus distress, actually used a different pathway to process emotional information.  It is possible that that the severity of tinnitus related to emotional sounds.

Understanding tinnitus for better therapies

The takeaway for the researchers was that greater activation of an area of the brain known as the frontal lobe helped control emotional responses and reduce tinnitus stress, which could have far-reaching implications on possible interventions or therapies for tinnitus.

An important note – tinnitus is reported in 85% of individuals with hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can bring back the wonderful sounds of life, improve your relationships and help keep your mind sharp. For some people who have both tinnitus and hearing loss, just wearing hearing aids can also alleviate tinnitus. If you need help with your hearing or tinnitus, contact Peninsula Hearing Services for an appointment.

Reference:  This article was modified from the article “Research shows severity of tinnitus is related to emotional processing” by Lisa Packer, staff writer, HealthHearing.com (November 7, 2017)

Ringing in the Ears

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Ringing in the Ears

There’s a ringing in the ears that no one else can hear – a buzzing, ringing or whooshing sound that won’t go away — and it is driving you crazy. Is it a disease you wonder? Or a symptom of something serious? And – will it ever go away?Most of us have experienced this condition, especially after a night enjoying the music of a favorite band or an afternoon cheering for the home team at the local stadium. If the ringing and buzzing doesn’t go away after a few days however, it’s time for a trip to your hearing healthcare professional.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus (pronounced ti-NIGHT-us or TIN-i-tus) is the sensation of a ringing in the ears or buzzing in the ears even when there is no external sound present. You might hear the noise sporadically or constantly, and it may be loud or barely noticeable. Sometimes it’s worse — especially when there isn’t any background noise, such as when you are trying to fall asleep in a quiet room.

According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), more than 50 million people suffer from some form of tinnitus. While most people consider it a minor annoyance, more than 12 million with severe cases find it disruptive to their personal and professional relationships. Many of these individuals with chronic cases of tinnitus are veterans. In fact, tinnitus is the single largest category for disability claims in the military. Hearing loss is the second.

Tinnitus as a symptom

Most hearing health professionals believe tinnitus is a symptom of another condition or illness, such as:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL): prolonged exposure to loud noise is the most common reason for up to 90 percent of individuals diagnosed with the condition. Those who have been exposed to a single, loud noise – such as an explosion or gun shot – may experience damage to the nerve receptors in the inner ear and develop NIHL. Those who work in noisy professions, such as construction, music, or landscaping or those with loud hobbies such as hunting, motorcycling, and snowmobiling may also suffer from NIHL.
  • Presbycusis: Hearing loss that develops as part of the natural aging process is known as presbycusis. During this process, parts of the hearing nerve receptors deteriorate and tinnitus may occur.
  • Ototoxic medications: Some medications, such as aspirin, several types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, sedatives, anti-depressants and quinine medications can negatively affect your hearing health and cause tinnitus.
  • Meniere’s disease: This disease affects the inner ear, causing progressive deafness and, in some cases, attacks of vertigo and tinnitus.
  • Blockage of the ear such as excess earwax, infections or benign tumors
  • Head, neck or jaw problems such as head injuries or TMJ syndrome
  • Other medical problems including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, anemia and diabetes

In many cases, tinnitus is reduced when the underlying cause of the condition is treated.

Tinnitus as a disease

In other cases, tinnitus is so chronic and debilitating it can cause other health problems including stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and even thoughts of suicide. While it isn’t curable, it can be managed, even in these extreme situations.

Dr. James Henry, a research scientist at the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA Medical Center in Portland, Ore. has developed five progressive treatment protocols to help veterans with chronic cases of tinnitus manage their condition. In a 2013 post published by Psychology Today, Dr. Henry describes his five-step Progressive Tinnitus Management Program. While levels one and two deal with getting patients to hearing healthcare providers and treating any detected hearing loss, level three focuses on showing patients how to use sound, relaxation exercises and diversion activities to manage their tinnitus. Dr. Henry said 95 percent of those attending the level three workshops succeed in managing their tinnitus.

Currently, the best treatment for chronic tinnitus in which there is no underlying medical cause and there is hearing loss is hearing aids (MarkeTrak VIII: The Prevalence of Tinnitus n the United States and the Self-reported Efficacy of Various Treatments-Sergei Kochkin, et al, 2011, Hearing Review).

Seek treatment

Whether you suspect the ringing in the ears is a symptom of a larger issue or something isolated, it needs to be evaluated by a hearing care professional to determine if there is something causing it and how to best treat it. The first step is to seek treatment from an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician or hearing healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tinnitus. In the meantime, avoid substances such as alcohol, smoking and drinking caffeinated beverages, which can exacerbate your condition. Get plenty of rest and relaxation. Finally, it’s also important to maintain a positive outlook and find a support group with people who understand what you are dealing with.

SOURCE: edited from an article by Debbie Clason, staff writer Health Hearing.com (June 1, 2017 )

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Peninsula Hearing Services Hearing Aids, Tinnitus

What Causes Hearing Loss?

You finally made the visit to have your hearing tested. The results confirm your suspicions – some hearing impairment. You ask, “How did this happen?” To help answer this question, let’s examine what causes hearing loss.  There are 4 causes.


For one, age can play a role. In age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), changes in the nerves and cells of the inner ear that occur as you get older cause a gradual but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe. Doctors do not know why presbycusis happens, but it seems to run in families. Roughly half of elderly Americans have some type of hearing loss (National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders, November 2013). Refer to Chart 1.

Chart 1

Environmental Factors

Second, environmental factors play a role. An excessive exposure to loud noises can cause hearing deficiency. As shown in Chart 2, approximately one in six Americans has hearing loss due to noise (reference 1). Noise-induced hearing loss can affect people of all ages and most often develops gradually over many years. Over time, the noise experienced at work, during recreation (such as riding motorcycles), or even common chores (such as using a power lawn mower) can lead to hearing loss. Many construction workers, farmers, musicians, airport workers, tree cutters, and people in the armed forces have hearing problems because of too much exposure to loud noise. Sometimes loud noise can cause a ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ears, called tinnitus.

Chart 2



Third, genetics can play a role. Hearing loss can also be hereditary and there are multiple forms of genetic hearing loss.  For more on genetic types of hearing loss, review the Genetics Crash Course from Hearing Health Magazine Summer 2012 issue.

Medical Incidents

Lastly, other factors include medical incidents. Chronic ear infections can cause hearing loss. Hearing loss can also be caused by a virus or bacteria, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medicines. There are some surprising medical causes of hearing loss such as diabetes or hypertension.

In conclusion, there are two important points to make regarding what causes hearing loss. First, more often than not there is no easy explanation for one’s hearing loss. Beyond the effect of a single traumatic deafening experience, it’s common that multiple factors can be attributed to one’s hearing loss. Second, there is significant research being conducted to develop a cure for hearing loss. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, “Incredibly, the promise of a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus is very real. And underlying that promise is the discovery that chickens have the ability to spontaneously restore their hearing.” To learn more about this research check out the Hearing Health Foundation website.



  1. Source: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/Pages/quick.aspx, “The NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.”