If you experience noises in your ears that aren’t coming
from your external environment, such as ringing, buzzing or
hissing, then you are one of 360,000 Canadians living with
a condition known as tinnitus. Within this group, more than
150,000 are bothered enough by their symptoms to seek
For many people, the worst part of having tinnitus can be
the feeling it can’t be escaped; these sounds can become
annoying and follow you everywhere.
Tinnitus is a phantom sound caused by your brain
trying to compensate for damage to your hearing system.
“It’s a very common phenomenon that’s almost always
associated with hearing loss,” says Bonita Chow, Calgary’s
first Tinnitus Care Provider audiologist.
Tinnitus can raise your stress levels and reduce your
quality of life. “You can’t enjoy quiet activities like reading
a book. It can affect your sleep. There is never any peace
and quiet,” Chow says.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, Chow can help those
with the condition learn to manage it. Treatment starts with
going beyond a standard hearing test. “I take the time to
measure the impact the tinnitus is having on each person
because everyone is affected in different ways,” she says.
“My specialized assessments are designed to delve into
the auditory system and look for any areas of damage, as
well as measuring the tinnitus itself.”
After thoroughly assessing her patients, Chow gives
them strategies for relief.
“We can’t make tinnitus go away, but we ensure it
doesn’t affect your quality of life,” she says.
Treating any underlying hearing loss can also help relieve
tinnitus. In such cases, Chow fits patients with special
hearing aids that deal with hearing loss and tinnitus at the
same time. For hearing loss, these discreet devices amplify
external sounds to stimulate the damaged areas of your
auditory system. Meanwhile, for tinnitus relief, they also
emit soothing sounds such as chimes, ocean waves or
white noise. The treatment reduces your awareness of your
tinnitus; eventually, you stop noticing it.
“You don’t have to just live with it. Being proactive about
your auditory health means that you take control over your
tinnitus,” says Chow. “It does not control you.”
Tinnitus Care Provider
talks about treating the condition
Tinnitus and Hearing Health Calgary’s Bonita Chow can help people with tinnitus manage