Ringing in the Ears: Facts About Tinnitus
On this page:
- What causes tinnitus?
- What should I do if I have tinnitus?
- How will hearing experts treat my tinnitus?
- What can I do to help myself?
- What is the next step?
Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, or hissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or all the time? Does the sound bother you a lot? If you answer yes to these questions, you may have tinnitus (tin-NY-tus).
Tinnitus is a symptom associated with many forms of hearing loss. It can also be a symptom of other health problems. Roughly 40 million American experience tinnitus. For some, the severity of the tinnitus interferes with daily activities. if you have tinnitus, you might experience difficulty working or sleeping.
Tinnitus may be caused by:
Hearing loss: Most people who have tinnitus also have some kind of hearing loss.
Loud noise: Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Continued exposure can make tinnitus and hearing loss worse.
Medicine: More than 200 medicines, including aspirin, can cause tinnitus. If you have tinnitus and take medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medicine could be the cause.
Other potential causes: Allergies, tumors, problems in the heart and blood vessels, jaws, and neck can cause tinnitus.
Make an appointment to see an Audiologist for an evaluation. A careful review of your health history along with audiometric testing will lead to the most likely causes and best treatment for your tinnitus. You may be referred to an ear, nose and throat doctor for other examinations to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment recommendations.
Although there is no cure for tinnitus, Audiologists, scientists and doctors have discovered several treatments that may give you some relief. Not every treatment works for everyone, so you may need to try several to find the ones that help.
Treatments can include:
Hearing aids: Most people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids create a dual benefit of enhancing hearing and masking or covering up the tinnitus. The majority of patients with tinnitus receive partial or complete relief from their tinnitus with the use of hearing aids.
Maskers: Tinnitus maskers are small electronic devices that look like hearing aids and are tuned to generate sound that masks or covers up the tinnitus. Like hearing aids, they may provide relief from the tinnitus, but will not enhance hearing and may interfere with understanding speech.
Many types of devices, like fans, radios and sound generators mask tinnitus. They help tinnitus sufferers sleep or get back to sleep.
Medicine or drug therapy: You may develop anxiety or other strong emotional responses to your tinnitus. Certain medicines may provide relief from these emotional reactions and provide some relief from the tinnitus. Other medicines and nutritional supplements can provide additional relief.
Neuromonics Tinnitus Therapy: This treatment uses a combination of testing, counseling and specialized masking to effectively manage and gradually reduce your response to the tinnitus. This treatment can take six months or more to complete but has the highest rate of success.
Counseling: If you have tinnitus you may experience anxiety, depression and other psychiatric problems. You may be referred to a psychiatrist or counselor as needed.
Relaxing: Learning how to relax is very helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress makes tinnitus seem worse. By relaxing, you have a chance to rest and better deal with the sound.
Listening to music is often helpful. Focusing on music makes you feel better and helps you forget your tinnitus by masking it with a pleasant sound. Sometimes listening to recorded sounds from nature, like ocean waves and running streams makes you feel better and masks the tinnitus.
Avoid anything that can make your tinnitus worse, such as smoking, alcohol and loud noise. If you are a construction worker, an airport worker, or a hunter, or if you are regularly exposed to loud noise at home or at work, wear ear plugs or special earmuffs to protect your hearing and keep your tinnitus from getting worse.
If it is hard for you to hear over your tinnitus, ask your friends and family to face you when they talk so you can see their faces. Seeing their expressions may help you understand them better. Ask people to speak louder, but not shout. Also, tell them they do not have to talk slowly, just more clearly.
Schedule an appointment with an Audiologist to evaluate and discuss your tinnitus. Call us today