Many people have experienced a ringing in the ear, known as tinnitus. For some, it’s a temporary issue that doesn’t cause much distress. However, others can have chronic tinnitus that lasts for years and can be debilitating.
Veterans are at a higher risk of developing tinnitus than the general population. Let’s examine why that is and what steps can be taken to manage the condition.
Many people with hearing loss also experience tinnitus. Veterans, particularly those who have seen combat, are at a greater risk of noise-induced hearing loss because of their proximity to explosions, gunfire and other loud sounds.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with anxiety and depression have been linked to higher rates of tinnitus among veterans.
A recent study of 891 veterans found that those with moderate to severe cases of tinnitus were more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety than those without. Compounding the problem is the fact that tinnitus can worsen mental health because of its negative impact on quality of life. So, struggling with one condition may exacerbate the other and vice versa.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are another condition that has been linked to an increased risk of tinnitus. A 2019 study found that even a mild TBI is associated with up to a 75.7% incidence of tinnitus.
Once again, veterans who have spent time in combat may be especially at risk. They have a higher likelihood of suffering from a blast TBI. This is where an injury to their brain occurs due to the force of an explosion or a secondary injury resulting from fragments flying in the air.
How to Manage Tinnitus
There is no one definitive cure for tinnitus. However, that does not mean that there aren’t many things you can do to help manage your condition.
Since tinnitus is a symptom of other conditions, figuring out the root cause (if possible) and treating it can help reduce or even resolve the problem completely. If you are currently suffering, a good first step is to contact VA Houston Health Care to find out what benefits and services are available.
Since mental health and tinnitus are closely intertwined, getting mental health counseling, going on medication or joining a support group may help make your tinnitus more manageable.
Other treatment options can include:
- Hearing aids
- Acoustic therapy
- Tinnitus retraining therapy
If you would like additional information on managing tinnitus or wish to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at Hearing Systems today.