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Understanding Tinnitus

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, buzzing, whooshing or other sound in the ears or head without an external stimulus. Tinnitus is the medical term for “noise in the ears.” If you experience tinnitus, you are not alone. More than 50 million Americans experience some form of tinnitus. Many people find their ability to perform basic functions such as reading a book, sleeping or enjoying some quiet time can become impaired. To determine how to best treat tinnitus, it’s important to understand its symptoms and causes.

Symptoms of tinnitus

There are a number of different symptoms for tinnitus, but the most common include hearing the following sounds:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Whooshing
  • Hissing

Regardless of how it’s described, it is a sound not produced in your surroundings. These sounds are typically heard only by the person experiencing the tinnitus, but sometimes (rarely) can be detected by a hearing professional. These sounds can be heard constantly or intermittently.

Causes of tinnitus

There are several factors that can cause tinnitus, including the following:

  • Hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Medication
  • Ear infection
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Earwax buildup
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Vascular disorders

Tinnitus may be caused by one or more of these conditions and some can be resolved easily if the cause is temporary, such as an infection or a buildup of earwax.

Tinnitus treatments

The impact of tinnitus on people’s lives can range from annoying to debilitating. Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, there are a number of different treatment methods available to help you find relief. Your hearing care provider will assess the severity of your tinnitus, symptoms, how it impedes your daily life and possible causes and recommend one of the following solutions.

  • Address the problem: If your tinnitus is due to earwax build up, medication or infection, they’ll recommend the proper course to resolve the issue. This may include removing the earwax, switching medications or antibiotics. Behavioral therapy may also be recommended to help treat the varying emotions you may experience with tinnitus, from anxiety to anger.
  • Hearing aids: Hearing devices are incredibly helpful in treating tinnitus. Even if a hearing loss isn’t present, hearing aids can be equipped with tinnitus-masking features that help cover the tinnitus and offer relief from the unwanted noise.
  • White noise machines: If your tinnitus isn’t as severe or only experienced at night time, a white noise machine may be ideal for helping you find relief. White noise machines produce a steady sound to help mask the tinnitus noises you hear.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): TRT is a form of therapy designed to help individuals with tinnitus find relief. This therapy involves retraining your mind to block out and hear certain tones, which in turn, helps to ease the symptoms caused by tinnitus.

If you are suffering from tinnitus schedule an appointment with a hearing professional to be evaluated. The hearing provider will work to identify and recommend the appropriate treatment.