May is designated as Speech and Hearing Month. This month, the hearing-loss meeting topic is tinnitus — actually “Investigating Tinnitus.” Lauren Hadden, Au.D., will make her much-postponed presentation about this on Saturday, May 20, at 10.30 a.m. at Care Partners’ Seymour Auditorium, 68 Sweeten Creek Road.
Tinnitus — ringing or other sounds heard by the individual that are not heard by others — is a condition deeply troubling to many people, though mild and easily tolerated by others, and it overlaps considerably with hearing loss. Hearing aids are often the first line of defense, because they frequently help, even in the absence of hearing loss.
But the reason we are highlighting tinnitus during this special month is that too often people are told there is nothing to be done, that you just have to live with it. This makes me angry. You do have to live with it: There is no cure, but it is increasingly well-understood in terms of what it is and what you can do to live with it, and for the most part it can be well-managed.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely advocated, but the psychologist using that does need some specific knowledge about tinnitus itself. CBT is a component of progressive tinnitus management, a scientific approach to the condition that has proven valuable. It was developed by James Henry and his colleagues at the VA’s research unit in Portland, Ore., and is offered by the Veterans Administration here in Asheville. Henry is very approachable, and PTM is available outside the VA, too. There are also other approaches and specific techniques that many have found useful, though it is important to examine critically what is on offer online: Snake-oil equivalents are out there, too.
Good information is available. Apart from Hadden’s talk for the Asheville chapter, HLAA’s national organization offers webinars on many topics, and recently there have been two on tinnitus. Both are valuable. Here are the links to them: http://avl.mx/3py and http://avl.mx/3q0.
[I] … can be contacted at 828-665-8699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ann Karson
Chairperson, Asheville chapter
Hearing Loss Association of America