All About Tinnitus

You have likely experienced temporary tinnitus. Have you ever left a concert or a loud evening with friends and noticed a ringing sound in your ears and that it is a little harder to hear? This is tinnitus which describes a ringing or buzzing-like noise in one or both ears when no external sound is present in the environment. 

This phantom noise can be experienced intermittently or chronically, affecting health and daily life in a variety of ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 50 million people experience tinnitus and 20 million people live with chronic tinnitus. Additionally, 16 million people seek medical attention for tinnitus every year. Learning about tinnitus and ways to alleviate it can drastically improve your health and wellness.What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a symptom rather than a condition itself. It is a symptom of an underlying medical condition that can be difficult to diagnose. This is because nearly 200 health conditions can produce tinnitus as a symptom according to the American Tinnitus Association. So it can take time to identify what is activating one’s tinnitus. A few of the most common causes include: 

  1. Hearing Loss: The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss. Hearing loss is a chronic medical condition that affects nearly 48 million people in the U.S. It can be caused by a range of factors including loud noise exposure, aging, existing medical conditions, and head injuries. Hearing loss often results from damaged hair cells in the inner ear. These sensory cells convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals that get carried to the brain where they are further processed. This is what enables us to understand what we hear. Hearing loss reduces one’s capacity to hear and process sound which produces various symptoms including tinnitus. 
  2. Ear Obstructions: this encompasses physical blockages that prevent sound from being fully absorbed and traveling down the ear canal to the inner ear. Ear obstructions include an accumulation of earwax, bone growths, injury from foreign objects in the ear, etc. This disrupts the flow of sound and can produce tinnitus as a result. 
  3. Inner Ear Disorders: there are different types of inner ear disorders like Meniere’s disease which damages the inner ear. The inner ear houses essential components that are integral to how we hear; including hair cells, the cochlea, and auditory nerves. Inner ear disorders can cause an accumulation of fluid, produce inflammation, and swelling which affects hearing and can trigger tinnitus. 

Other causes of tinnitus include autoimmune conditions, specific medications, thyroid conditions, etc. It is important to recognize the signs of tinnitus and be evaluated as soon as possible.  Signs of Tinnitus

The most identifiable sign of tinnitus is hearing a buzzing, ringing, clicking like noise in the ears. This sound can come and go or be more severe. A few other common signs of tinnitus include: 

  • Thumping sound in the ears: hearing a thumping (rather than a ringing) sound in the ears that can even match your pulse is another sign of tinnitus. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus. 
  • Hearing music: perceiving music when no music is playing is another sign of tinnitus. People can often mistake this for background noise rather than tinnitus. 
  • Changes to hearing: tinnitus makes it tougher to hear and process sound. It can also increase sensitivity to noise. 

If you recognize any of these signs of tinnitus, be sure to be assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Tips to Effectively Manage Tinnitus 

There are several ways tinnitus can be alleviated. You can effectively manage your tinnitus with the following strategies: 

  1. Test hearing. The first step is to have your hearing thoroughly evaluated by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a painless process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. This identifies any impairment and the degree of hearing loss. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which are electronic devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound. Not only does this maximize hearing capacity but it also alleviates symptoms. Today’s hearing aids even offer tinnitus masking features. 
  2. Tinnitus retraining therapy. Yoru hearing healthcare provider can recommend this type of sound therapy which uses a process known as habituation to retrain how your brain interprets tinnitus. 
  3. Sound machines. Creating ambient noise is a useful way to mask tinnitus. You can do this by using sound machines or apps that play soft sounds which shift your attention away from tinnitus 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. We can comprehensively assess your hearing and provide support with tinnitus management. 

Leave a Comment

Ask Our Specialists

Curious about how hearing aids will effect your workout routine? Our hearing professionals will gladly answer any of your questions.

Get A FREE Professional Hearing Test

And Receive a 30 days FREE Trial