More than 45 million people in the United States struggle with hearing ringing, buzzing, roaring or clicking sounds known as Tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom of another condition. Most forms of Tinnitus cause noises in the ear that others cannot hear, and these symptoms can interfere with hearing. Fortunately, Tinnitus treatment significantly reduces the symptoms and quiets the annoying noises.
The noise you hear can range in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal. It can affect one or both ears. Symptoms of Tinnitus can range in severity as well, from very quiet to loud enough to drown out actual sounds. The overall noise of Tinnitus interferes with concentration and communication.
Tinnitus interferes with some of the simple pleasures in life, such as listening to music or hearing the voice of a loved one clearly. Fortunately, treatment for Tinnitus quiets the phantom noises and restores your hearing.
Causes of Tinnitus
There are many potential causes of Tinnitus, so it’s important to seek the help of a hearing specialist. Below are some of the common reasons that Tinnitus may develop:
- age-related hearing loss
- ear infection
- wax buildup in the ear
- exposure to loud noises
- head or neck injuries
- use of certain antibiotics, cancer medicines, or diuretics
- medical conditions
- changes to the bones in the ears
- blood flow problems
- brain tumors
- overactive thyroid
- in some cases, pregnancy may also bring on symptoms
Evaluation of and Treatment for Tinnitus
Anyone with Tinnitus should consult with a doctor, who can determine the underlying cause of the symptoms and suggest an effective course of treatment. Tinnitus that occurs in only one ear, occurs suddenly, or causes hearing loss, requires immediate medical attention as these can be symptoms of a more serious problem.
During the consultation, the doctor will evaluate your ears, head, and neck to look for possible causes. The consultation may include hearing tests and imaging tests such as CT and MRI. The doctor may also observe how physical movements, like clenching your jaw or moving your head, affect the ringing in your ears.
Treatment for Tinnitus depends largely on its underlying cause and may include earwax removal, treatment for a blood vessel disorder, or a change in medication. While drugs cannot cure Tinnitus, some medications can reduce the severity of its symptoms.
Where appropriate, noise suppression devices that use white noise to mask symptoms may be recommended. Wearable Tinnitus retraining devices also deliver programmed music that masks the specific frequencies of the noises you hear. Talk to your doctor to determine which treatment might be right for you.
If you believe Tinnitus could be affecting your hearing, schedule a free consultation and hearing test at a nearby Audibel location.