What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears or head that can only be heard by the person affected by the issue. But it can take other forms such as whistling, buzzing and even hissing sounds. It can be constant or intermittent, loud or soft, experienced only in one ear or in both ears, begin gradually or suddenly. You may even hear it while sleeping. Every person that is affected has a different experience from the next person. If unchecked, sufferers can have major losses in their quality of life and overall concentration.
An estimated 50 million Americans experience some degree of tinnitus in their lifetime. Around 10% of the adult population struggle with it for 3 months or longer. The inconsistency of the symptoms is almost as disruptive as the ringing, and the root cause can be a number of things.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a symptom, and can have many possible causes including:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Injuries to the head or neck
- Reaction to medication
- Impacted earwax
- Poor diet or sleep disturbances
- Untreated medical conditions or ear infections
Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss. About 90% of tinnitus sufferers also have some degree of hearing loss. If you are experiencing tinnitus symptoms, call us for a hearing evaluation. At Micron Audiology, we will help you pin-point the underlying cause of your tinnitus and form an appropriate treatment plan.
Since tinnitus and hearing loss are often linked, some people with tinnitus mistakenly think their trouble hearing is caused by the tinnitus, when in fact the tinnitus is likely due to a hearing loss. The hearing loss is often caused by damaged hair cells in the inner ear. Hearing aids can be very helpful for tinnitus sufferers by amplifying the natural sounds in your environment while also masking the irritating noises associated with tinnitus. The better you hear, the less you may notice your symptoms. With hearing aids, your brain has other sounds to listen to, making your tinnitus less apparent. Many of the hearing aids we commonly work with can be programmed to create customized relief sounds that minimize the bothersome effects of tinnitus.
Additional treatment options
There are other options available to attack tinnitus symptoms other than with amplification devices. Patients can use environmental remedies like therapy management, a healthy diet and avoiding exposure to loud noises. These are just some of the small tips our audiologists will go over with you to improve your auditory health. The unique symptoms of each case call for different tests, and also different treatment options. A professional at Micron Audiology will make the final call on which route is best, and may even refer patients to an otolaryngologist for further study. The good news is that there are plenty of approved ways to reduce tinnitus, no matter what the root cause is.