What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common disorder affecting over 50 million people in the United States. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, buzzing or clicking. Tinnitus is not actually a disease, but a symptom of another underlying condition of the ear, auditory nerve or other influencing factor. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. The perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud and may be recurrent or constant.
What Causes Tinnitus?
The exact cause of tinnitus is not known in every case. However, there are several likely factors that may worsen tinnitus. These include:
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Wax build-up in the ear canal
- Certain medications
- Ear or sinus infections
- Age-related hearing loss
- Ear diseases and disorders
- Jaw misalignment
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain types of tumors
- Thyroid disorders
- Head and neck trauma
Tinnitus ranges from a temporary response to loud noise to a chronic symptom of an underlying medical condition. When chronic tinnitus interferes with your quality of life, it’s time to turn to the hearing health professionals at Live Better Hearing. We expertly diagnose the tinnitus cause and recommend treatment options to calm tinnitus and bring you relief.
Symptoms Of Tinnitus
Ringing, buzzing, whirring or clicking are all words used to describe the sounds of tinnitus. Tinnitus is the condition where your ears and brain perceive sounds that aren’t in the environment. It can be loud enough to inhibit sleep, degrade your ability to concentrate and make communication difficult. Tinnitus may be temporary, but it can also be a chronic condition that decreases your quality of life.
Causes Of Tinnitus
Tinnitus isn’t a rare condition. Roughly 25 million Americans experience tinnitus at some time in their life. Tinnitus itself isn’t a disease; it is a symptom. Tinnitus has many different causes. The most common causes of tinnitus are:
- Undiagnosed Hearing Loss: Many people that experience tinnitus are living with undiagnosed hearing loss.
- Exposure to Excessive Noise: Exposure to excessive noise levels, whether over a long period of time or just briefly damages hearing. It can also lead to tinnitus. The longer the exposure the more severe the tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Ototoxic drugs: There are many medications that can cause tinnitus. Common aspirin is just one of them. If you have tinnitus and take medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your prescription drugs could be the cause.
- Other causes: Allergies, tumors, and problems in the heart and blood vessels, jaw and neck can cause tinnitus.
Depending on the severity and underlying condition causing the tinnitus, there are several treatments available to improve the perception of unwanted noise. The most common treatments for tinnitus include:
- Hearing aids with tinnitus-masking features
- Tinnitus retraining therapy
- Sound therapy
- Avoidance measures
- Avoidance of certain medications
- Behavioral therapy
Tinnitus retraining therapy combines directive counseling and sound generators to retrain how the brain interprets the tinnitus sounds. These devices are different than masking devices and are used in conjunction with intense directive counseling by the hearing professionals at Live Better Hearing.
Hearing Aids For Tinnitus
The most common cause of tinnitus is undiagnosed hearing loss. As you lose the ability to hear, the auditory input to the brain reduces. Researchers believe that the brain may create the tinnitus sounds to fill the input void. By wearing hearing aids, you restore the level of auditory input and tinnitus can fade into the background.
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Sound therapy is very effective in habituating your brain to the tinnitus sound. The tinnitus sounds don’t disappear, but they recede into the background, and you no longer notice them. The hearing health care professionals at Live Better Hearing can recommend several different sound therapy options, including masking devices, to bring tinnitus relief.