February 23, 2017
South Surrey/White Rock Seniots Health Network Q&A
Former local MLA and White Rock alderman KEN JONES describes the cause and cure for Tinnitus.
What is TINNITUS?
No, it’s not to do with tendons in your arm; tinnitus has to do with your hearing.
Tinnitus is a brain-generated sound that in most cases is only heard by you. It is a symptom resulting from some injury along the hearing pathway between the ear drum and the auditory (hearing) part of the brain. That includes the inner ear bones, the snail-shell shaped cochlea and its sets of frequency-detecting hair cells, and the auditory nerve connection to the brain.
What does Tinnitus sound like?
People perceive it in many different ways: high pitched hissing, ringing, buzzing, tinkling, clicking, whooshing, popping, and others.
What causes Tinnitus?
There are many causes of tinnitus, about 55% are related to LOUD NOISE exposure (concerts, movie theatres, churches, pubs, restaurants, casinos, cranked up head phones, boom cars, etc.), lesser amounts are from neck or head injuries (like whiplash), inner ear infection or calcification of the inner ear bones, some antibiotics and some anti-depressants, and in a small number of cases, a tumor along this hearing pathway.
Who does it affect?
People of all ages, genders, ethnicity, from all over the world, but it appears to be more common in industrial societies. There is no indication that heredity is a factor. Statistics from the US, Great Britain, Japan, and Australia suggest that approximately 20% of the population experiences life-affecting tinnitus; that’s one in five. Many suffer in silence because, only they can hear the tinnitus, or they have been told that, “Yes, you have tinnitus, you’re going to have it for the rest of your life, and there is nothing we can do about it”. This is devastating, and often leads to depression. But there is HOPE!
What can we do about Tinnitus?
Firstly, reduce stress, and think positively about your tinnitus. Join a Tinnitus Self Help Group and learn about the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). In many cases, the greater the stress, the louder the tinnitus is.
TRT is a brain training (by habituation) process that teaches the central sorting area of your brain that decides which of your senses are going to be acted on or ignored. TRT works to convince this area that it can ignore the sound we know as tinnitus, and therefore you will not hear it. It may take from 3 months to 2 years to achieve this.
At the present time there is no cure for tinnitus, so we treat the symptom. Researchers Dr. Jastreboff and Dr. Hazell developed the TRT in 2004, then trained audiologists around the world in their therapy. In this area, St. Paul’s Hospital Hearing Clinic, and Sound IdEARS Hearing Clinic each have a trained audiologist.
There are 2 websites that are recommended to learn more about TRT: tinn.com (Dr. Nagler, who has tinnitus) and ata.org (American Tinnitus Assn). Local Self Help Groups meet at Holy Trinity Church (12th Ave. & Hemlock in Vancouver) and Century House (New Westminster). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .
Kenneth “Ken” Jones has been facilitating the Greater Vancouver Self Help Group since 1996, and has very loud tinnitus as a result of a whiplash accident in 1984. Ken is an advocate and counsellor for people with tinnitus from all over Western Canada, and is Secretary of the Assn of Former MLAs of BC, and a former White Rock Alderman.