Tinnitus: A Case-By-Case Management

There is no cure, but in many ways, there are solutions for tinnitus

A percussionist since the age of 9, audiologist Kelly Breese, AuD, has played drums and marimba in everything from professional orchestras to bar bands. Like many musicians, however, Dr. Breese has more than memories to remind her of those days on the stage.

Since graduate school, Dr. Breese has wrestled with tinnitus, an annoying and often distracting ringing or buzzing in the ears that she contracted from playing percussion in a variety of loud environments.

“I distinctly recall an incident where a drummer hit the snare drum really loud next to my right ear,” Dr. Breese confirms. “That’s part of what started it, and for me the tinnitus has always been a high-pitched, static-like sound. Like an electrical line at a high frequency.

“I was aware of it as a teenager, but it really started to affect me when I was in graduate school. I was trying to read a sentence on paper and couldn’t process the words because of how loud and bothersome the tinnitus was.”

That moment triggered more than annoyance in Dr. Breese, the founder of Doc Side Audiology, (Hearing Aids of Sarasota). It also triggered a desire to help others with the disorder and led to her becoming board-certified in tinnitus management.

As such, Dr. Breese explains that there is no cure for tinnitus. The disorder can be managed, however, and because of her experience with it, Dr. Breese considers herself a unique provider of those solutions.

“I have found ways to alleviate the tinnitus for myself, and I have and can help others,” Dr. Breese says. “Along those lines, it’s important to note that there is no gold standard that works for everyone. As a result, I look at each client holistically.”

Hearing aids are a big part of most any tinnitus solution. To alleviate her tinnitus, Dr. Breese wears hearing aids that improve her ability to hear environmental sounds such as birds chirping, the wind blowing or the clicking of a computer keyboard.

“The reason hearing aids work for me is because tinnitus is a brain thing,” Dr. Breese relates. “If the hearing aids allow us to better pick up on environmental sounds, it reduces the impact of the tinnitus by pushing that undesired sound into the background.”

Another solution is the Levo® system. Using proprietary technology, this program slowly alleviates tinnitus by stimulating the brain’s hearing center with the same tinnitus sound that is delivered through earbuds worn while sleeping.

“The goal is to utilize neuroplasticity to change how our brain reacts to and is aware of the tinnitus,” Dr. Breese says. “It is not an option for everyone, but it is a great success for those who are candidates.”

Another option is a tinnitus masker, as the name suggests, a tinnitus masker is a hearing aid program that drowns out the tinnitus and replaces it with a more relaxing sound.

“There are also cases where the tinnitus can be managed by adjusting the medication someone is taking,” Dr. Breese concludes. “And sometimes, a little wax removal or stress reduction is all that’s needed.

“I always say that tinnitus is a side effect of something, and if we can get to the bottom of that we will be better able to alleviate the bothersome annoyance of the tinnitus because we do have solutions to help you.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings

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    • Hearing Aids of Sarasota

      Hearing Aids of Sarasota want to be your anchor in all hearing healthcare needs. Dr. Kelly Breese will provide honest, caring, patient-centered, evidence-based, up-to-date treatment and education.... Read More

    • Kelly Breese, AuD

      Kelly Breese, AuD, is a board-certified doctor of audiology who specializes in the treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 2011 and her doctorate degree from the University of A... Read More