Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears. Tinnitus is generally regarded as a symptom of an underlying condition (i.e. acoustic trauma, age-related hearing loss). Studies have approximated that 10-15% of people in the United States have tinnitus. Tinnitus can be described in two ways:
• Objective Tinnitus: Ear noises that can be audibly heard by the patient as well as other people or equipment.
• Subjective Tinnitus: Ear noises only perceived by the patient.
The incidence of objective tinnitus is low while subjective tinnitus has a high incidence. Tinnitus diagnosis has traditionally been completed with pitch and loudness matching using an audiometer. This testing, known as tinnitus assessment, is therefore limited to options available within the audiometer. Precise tinnitus matching may not always be achieved as sound type and pitch is limited within the audiometer.
However, a new form of tinnitus assessment has been created that takes a whole new approach giving precise control of pitch, bandwidth, slope, tempo and loudness of the signal presented. This new tool, the MedRx Tinnometer, allows clinics to confidently track a patient's tinnitus with tools designed specifically for tinnitus. Tinnitus reports and the tinnitus assessment sessions are also able to be saved and easily recalled.
Once the tinnitus assessment is completed, there are a variety of ways to help treat tinnitus. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are many treatment options available. Hearing aids have a variety of sounds available within the products to help distract a patient from the tinnitus sound heard. The goal being that over time the tinnitus will become less of a priority to the patient. Hearing aid manufactures each have proprietary sound therapies available in the hearing aids.
The Tinnometer assessment will help establish a starting point for setting many of the hearing aid brands sound therapies allowing recommendations with the specific tinnitus matched by the patient in the tinnitus assessment session to be created. This will generate efficiencies when recommending hearing aid sound therapy to a patient and provide counseling information to help the patient understand their tinnitus.
Tinnitus is suffered by millions of people around the world and is something that can be addressed. The use of new tools available in the marketplace will help create better experiences for the patient and the clinician.
About the Author
Caleb Sparkman, Au.D. is the Vice President of MedRx, Inc., and has focused his career on the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. Dr. Sparkman earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics at the University of South Florida. He later went on to earn his Doctorate in Audiology from the University of South Florida.
Dr. Sparkman completed his residency training at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital where he gained expert knowledge in treating hearing loss and tinnitus. After working with a private Ear Nose and Throat physician, he joined MedRx to provide quality hearing healthcare to Largo, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. He believes that the key to helping those with hearing loss is to listen to and understand his patients and address each concern individually.