If you experience noises in your ears that aren’t comingfrom your external environment, such as ringing, buzzing orhissing, then you are one of 360,000 Canadians living witha condition known as tinnitus. Within this group, more than
150,000 are bothered enough by their symptoms to seekhelp.
For many people, the worst part of having tinnitus can bethe feeling it can’t be escaped; these sounds can becomeannoying and follow you everywhere.
Tinnitus is a phantom sound caused by your braintrying to compensate for damage to your hearing system.
“It’s a very common phenomenon that’s almost alwaysassociated with hearing loss,” says Bonita Chow, Calgary’sfirst Tinnitus Care Provider audiologist.
Tinnitus can raise your stress levels and reduce yourquality of life. “You can’t enjoy quiet activities like readinga book. It can affect your sleep. There is never any peaceand 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 itdoesn’t affect your quality of life,” she says.
Treating any underlying hearing loss can also help relievetinnitus. In such cases, Chow fits patients with specialhearing aids that deal with hearing loss and tinnitus at thesame time. For hearing loss, these discreet devices amplifyexternal sounds to stimulate the damaged areas of yourauditory system. Meanwhile, for tinnitus relief, they alsoemit soothing sounds such as chimes, ocean waves orwhite noise. The treatment reduces your awareness of yourtinnitus; eventually, you stop noticing it.
“You don’t have to just live with it. Being proactive aboutyour auditory health means that you take control over yourtinnitus,” 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 managetheir condition.