Tinnitus, often known as “ringing in the ear” is the sensation of a constant buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing or clicking noise in your ears when there is no sound present. The audiological and neurological condition affects nearly 15 percent of people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Ben Thompson, AuD., says his passion for helping people deal with their tinnitus comes from having chronic tinnitus himself.
“I developed chronic tinnitus from the age of 19 as a result of loud music exposure,” he says.
While pursuing a doctoral program in audiology at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, Dr. Ben says he became more interested in the study of tinnitus.
“I clearly saw that tinnitus specialists mattered. I understood the pain, the frustration, and could help.”
Simply put, Tinnitus is a sign of damage to the ear. It signals a disruption in how sound is transmitted and processed in the brain.
In most cases only the person who has tinnitus is the only one who can hear the noise.
These so-called “phantom noises” can vary in pitch and can be heard in one or both ears. People with tinnitus might hear a variety of sounds, including humming, roaring or even music. Some people may even hear multiple sounds.
These annoying sounds can get in the way of every day life, making it difficult to hear or allow the person to focus, but they can also cause more severe health issues if left untreated.
According to Dr. Ben, tinnitus it is not a life sentence – although, he adds, there are few medical professionals who will say this.
“The volume of tinnitus can reduce over time,” he says.
With tinnitus retraining therapy, body-based therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy, people with tinnitus can find relief from the constant buzzing in their heads.
This is great news for people suffering from tinnitus, as the condition has been linked to other serious health issues. An estimated 48-78 percent of people with severe tinnitus also have depression, anxiety, or other behavioral disorders, according to the American Tinnitus Association. In severe cases, this can lead to suicide, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.
Dr. Ben shares his tinnitus educational videos on YouTube. In a series of videos created exclusively for HearingLikeMe, he discusses the basics of tinnitus, the solutions, the main causes of tinnitus, the link between tinnitus and deafness, and hearing aid solutions for tinnitus.