Tinnitus, defined as the perception of noise or ringing in the ears, rarely indicates a serious problem, but for many – 15 million Americans, to be exact – the issue is a nuisance, if not burdensome and debilitating. Most individuals describe tinnitus as a ringing sound, but others might experience it whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, roaring, humming or whooshing. In rare cases, some individuals with tinnitus hear music.
Tinnitus is not actually a condition in and of itself, but rather is indicative of an underlying condition.
Health conditions that cause tinnitus include:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Earwax blockage
- Ear and sinus infections
- Changes in the ear bones
- Meniere’s disease
- TMJ disorders
- Head or neck injuries
- Acoustic neuroma
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Muscle spasms in the inner ear
- Brain tumors
- Thyroid problems
- Hormonal changes
In addition, researchers have indicated that some lifestyle choices are linked to tinnitus, including alcohol use, smoking and some dietary choices.
In order to know how to treat tinnitus, it is important to pinpoint the underlying health condition causing the issue in the first place. To do so, you will need to visit your primary health condition as well as an audiologist at Associated Specialists in Hearing Disorders & Hearing Aids to look for possible causes for tinnitus. Tests for tinnitus include:
- Hearing or audiological examination
- Imaging tests
- Basic movement tests to look for any underlying disorders that may need treatment
Treatment options are determined by the underlying cause. Tinnitus that is caused by a health condition is often easily treated by taking a few steps to treat the underlying issue. Some basic treatment options include:
- Earwax removal
- Changes in medication
- Treating a blood vessel condition, through medication, surgery or other treatment
More often, tinnitus requires a more rigorous treatment approach.
Common treatment modalities include:
- Hearing aids: Often times, tinnitus that is associated with hearing loss will dissipate when the hearing loss is treated with hearing aids.
- White noise or noise-masking machine: Unfortunately, sometimes changing medications or wearing hearing aids doesn’t make tinnitus disappear. When this is the case, doctors and audiologists will recommend white noise or noise-masking machines. Background noise will help diminish the tinnitus symptoms.
- Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): For more severe cases of tinnitus, some individuals might seek out tinnitus retraining therapy. This type of therapy enables an individual to enhance their overall well-being and happiness by learning how to ignore the sounds caused by tinnitus.
If you are suffering from tinnitus, the first step is to talk to someone about it. Contact Associated Specialists in Hearing Disorders & Hearing Aids for an appointment today.