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Everyday, Dr. Jason Schmitt, an audiologist at A&E, sees a patient with tinnitus.
But what is it, this tinnitus (pronounced tin-NI-tus or ti-NIGHT-us)? It can be defined as sound that is perceived within the head or ears without any external sound source.
This month, Dr. Schmitt hosted a class on tinnitus to inform people of the Lancaster area what this interesting affliction is. Tinnitus is not a disease, but rather, a symptom of another problem an individual may be having.
“At least 75% of the patients I see have a form of tinnitus,” he says.
For eight years, Dr. Schmitt has been seeing patients at A&E Audiology. He specializes in this specific issue, receiving his doctorate from University of Florida.
“The sounds could be perceived differently per individual, some buzzing, ringing, roaring, crickets, or music,” he explains. “It can present a lot of forms.”
Most commonly, patients experience these sounds for two reasons: hearing loss or noise exposure. The ringing or whooshing can fluctuate in intensity day to day or week to week, and it is very individualized. Not everyone hears the same sounds.
At A&E, treating tinnitus properly is important, and it is not just a simple appointment that ends with a prescription. Tweet this
Dr. Schmitt compares the treatment of tinnitus to that of chronic pain. One pill does not always work for everyone, and a treatment plan, created uniquely for each patient, works much more effectively. Additionally, he wants to ensure that each patient is properly educated on tinnitus.
“Often times people don’t receive enough proper education from a health professional,” he says. “I have had patients who went to another specialist who weren’t provided enough information, and with a questionnaire and conversation in our office, we were able to relieve a lot of their stress and worries about what they were experiencing.”
So, what does a treatment plan look like at A&E?
Patients will work with one of our audiologists to build a hearing health history. Then, we will evaluate your hearing a number of different ways, like measuring the health of your ear drum, your hearing sensitivity, and matching the pitch of the tinnitus you may be experiencing, among other tests.
The goal of the evaluation and treatment is to retrain the brain to focus on information from the environment rather than focusing on the tinnitus.
“Everybody is going to respond different,” Dr. Schmitt says. That’s why we do a hearing evaluation. What works for one patient most likely won’t work for another.
Tinnitus is an issue that can cause a lot of anxiety, frustration, stress, and even depression. It’s not something you should take lightly. If the Internet has become your means for information, you may only be causing yourself more anxiety.
“Those are all things that can be prevented,” Dr. Schmitt says.
“People who don’t receive enough proper education from a health professional…can create more problems for themselves.” Tweet this
You don’t have to go through this experience alone. Your tinnitus could be isolating you without you realizing it. But, we can help.
Until you come into our office to have a hearing evaluation, Dr. Schmitt recommends avoiding silence. Surround yourself with uplifting music, an enjoyable TV program, and try to avoid the news or anything that might have negative connotations. An irritating noise in your ears is enough to put a damper on your day-to-day life, so do what you can to bring a positive perspective to your day.
Your next step is to make an appointment to have a hearing evaluation.
“You’re doing yourself a huge favor,” Dr. Schmitt says. He’s right. Take care of yourself, and make an appointment with us. It would be our pleasure to help you navigate the journey of tinnitus.