Meet the Audiologist: Carolyn Yates, AuD, Tinnitus Specialist

Audiology as a profession offers the opportunity to help patients in a variety of areas related to hearing and balance. I entered the field of audiology in 2013 without a specific focus in mind, armed only with the intention of helping people. Through my studies at the University at Buffalo and clinical training in Western New York, it quickly became clear that working with patients affected by tinnitus would be a rewarding part of my day-to-day practice.

There was an interesting trend in the vast majority of the tinnitus patients I saw: They had been previously told that nothing can be done for tinnitus. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There IS help for tinnitus! Tinnitus is often a complex symptom and is different for every patient that walks through the door. It requires us to think outside the box in order to find the best solutions for managing tinnitus in a way that works for each patient individually. It is important to get to the root of what is causing the tinnitus, whether it’s underlying hearing loss, stress, sleep disturbance or, more often than not, a combination of factors.

For the majority of patients, we are able to get their tinnitus to a point where it is no longer having a significant impact on their day-to-day life. I remember one patient in particular who came to HES with bothersome tinnitus. She had not been able to sleep for weeks and was having difficulty concentrating at work because the tinnitus was so loud and bothersome. She sat across from me in tears during her appointment because she had reached a point where she could no longer manage her tinnitus on her own. We reviewed her results and discovered that she had hearing loss in addition to the tinnitus. I ended up programming a set of devices, which are hearing aids that also have features built in to help manage tinnitus. As soon as she had the devices on her ears, she began to cry. She told me she could no longer hear her tinnitus at all and that it was the first time it had been quiet for her in years. This patient continues to use her devices on a daily basis and has successfully been able to manage her tinnitus and get back to enjoying her life, family and friends.

This patient represents just one of the many tinnitus success stories I have had the pleasure of being a part of at HES. Our comprehensive Tinnitus Program is designed to help patients who have tinnitus of all severity levels. In the past several years, there has been more and more research focused on tinnitus with the hope of finding better clinical practices for managing tinnitus.

As audiologists, we have many more tools to help patients with tinnitus than we did even five years ago thanks to new advancements in research and technology. The more audiologists understand about the underlying mechanisms of tinnitus, the better we are able to care for our patients. Remember, when it comes to tinnitus, no one has to just “live with it”. HES is the best place to go for help. The Certified Tinnitus Specialists have the knowledge and training to assist in finding the right combination of tools to help you take back control over your tinnitus, and your life!

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