Have you ever thought you saw something only to realize there was nothing there? If (more likely when) this happens, we are usually able to easily return to our lives. But what if these images did not go away;, they just continued to pop up throughout your day? Maybe they become so bothersome that they prevent you from going out to dinner in American Fork, Utah or living an active life. For those who suffer from tinnitus, this is what it is like. Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing sounds that are not really there. So, can the use of light be used as a form of tinnitus therapy?
Those suffering from tinnitus report hearing a number of different sounds, such as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing. These sounds may range in pitch from low to high.
The most common cause of tinnitus is damage to the hair cells within the inner ear. The hair cells move in response to the pressure of a sound wave. When the hairs move, an electrical signal is sent through the auditory nerve to the brain, where it is interpreted as sound. If the hairs become damaged, they can randomly send electrical signals to the brain. The brain will interpret these signals as sounds, even though there is no sound actually present.
Damage to the hair cells can be caused a number of conditions, such as:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax blockage
- Meniere’s disease
- TMJ disorders
- An injury to the head or neck
- Acoustic neuromas
- Blood vessel disorders
In order to determine the tinnitus management that is right for you, your American Fork audiologist will complete an audiological exam, a movement test and an imaging test. These exams are used to rule out or identify possible causes of tinnitus. If no cause is identified, treatment options are focused on helping the patient reduce the severity of the tinnitus and cope with the noise.
Light therapy has long been used to treat a number of conditions, such as depression, acne and psoriasis. Recently, more and more people are using it to manage tinnitus. There are two kinds of light therapy: low level laser therapy (LLLT) and colored light therapy (CLT).
Low level laser therapy uses laser energy to help repair damaged tissue and rejuvenate cells so they return to their healthy state. The laser is able to stimulate the mitochondria inside your cells to produce energy.
While LLLT is used to treat the underlying cause of tinnitus, colored light therapy is used to treat the symptoms. Staring at specifically tailored colors, usually blue, red and green, can help patients find relief from their symptoms.
To learn more about proper tinnitus management and if light therapy may work for you, contact your audiologist at Timpanogos Hearing and Balance.