Most people know tinnitus as a ringing sensation in the ears, although many people may not be aware of how common it is. According to the Mayo Clinic, as much as 20% of the population experiences tinnitus. Another surprising fact about tinnitus is that it isn’t a diagnosis. Although it’s commonly thought of as a condition people have, it’s a symptom. Tinnitus always indicates another underlying issue. Take a look at some of the most common causes for tinnitus:
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be a symptom of many different conditions. The three most common are:
- Age-related hearing loss – Our hearing declines as we age. This can cause tinnitus.
- Noise Exposure – This can be long term exposure or short term exposure. Short term exposures may include loud concerts or gunshots. Long term noise exposure usually comes from occupational exposure. Things like noisy construction equipment can damage hearing over time, causing tinnitus. With the increased popularity of headphones, more people may be at risk of developing tinnitus. The long term exposure to noise from headphones may be dangerous for your hearing.
- Ear wax blockage – Ear wax usually makes it out of your ear canal on its own. When it doesn’t, however, it may get blocked up and can cause tinnitus.
Tinnitus could also be caused by one of these conditions:
- Ear bone changes
- Meniere’s disease
- Jaw issues
- Head and neck injuries
- Blood vessel disorders
- Certain medications
Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease. Many problems could cause tinnitus, and this isn’t a complete list. A hearing instrument specialist can help you figure out what’s causing your tinnitus if you experience it.
What are the Symptoms?
Many people think that tinnitus is a ringing in the ears. While it’s true that tinnitus usually manifests as ringing, any sound in the ear when there is no noise around you may be considered tinnitus.
Tinnitus may present as a ringing, buzzing, humming, or even a clicking noise. Any noise you hear in your ears when there isn’t any sound around you could be tinnitus. We can help determine if you are experiencing tinnitus and what the potential cause might be.
How is it Treated?
The best way to treat tinnitus is to treat the underlying cause. Unfortunately, in some cases, that may not be possible. For some, tinnitus may be a sign of permanent damage. This is called chronic tinnitus, and it is more common in cases where tinnitus is caused by hearing loss.
Chronic tinnitus may be permanent, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for treating tinnitus. According to the American Tinnitus Association, or ATA, there are ways for patients to reduce the discomfort caused by tinnitus, even if they can’t get rid of it altogether.
Hearing aids are an excellent option for people experiencing hearing loss related tinnitus. According to the ATA, 60% of patients feel some relief from tinnitus when they wear hearing aids.
Other options include:
- Physical activity. Although it may be surprising, physical activity can reduce stress. Tinnitus can get worse the more stressed you are, so regular exercise may help keep tinnitus under control.
- Get out and mingle. People with chronic tinnitus tend to isolate themselves, and there are a lot of reasons for that, including a difficulty hearing others speak. Unfortunately, isolation usually only makes tinnitus worse. Despite difficulties hearing, it’s essential for people with tinnitus to stay social.
- Sound therapy. There are a lot of different types of sound therapies available to people with tinnitus. Essentially, sound therapy manipulates sound to reduce the burden of tinnitus. This includes treatments that mask the tinnitus or distract you from the tinnitus symptoms.
- Medications. There are no medications out there right now that treat tinnitus individually. However, some medicines may help with tinnitus symptoms. Some examples include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, and anticonvulsants.
How to Prevent Tinnitus
Sometimes, there’s no avoiding tinnitus. If it’s caused by age-related hearing loss, it may happen no matter what a person does to prevent it. However, your best shot at avoiding tinnitus is to protect your ears. Wear protection around loud noises, like in concerts, factories, or when using power tools. Keep your headphone volume low.
Tinnitus can be uncomfortable and even scary to experience. Some people may be afraid that tinnitus is permanent, and they may not seek help. There’s no need to resign yourself to tinnitus. A hearing instrument specialist can help figure out the cause, and even a solution to tinnitus.
Other people may live with tinnitus because they think a clinic visit will be too costly. The good news is that Hear-It-All offers affordable services. Our pricing is entirely transparent, so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for, and how much. Contact Hear-It-All today for more information, or to book a hearing test.
Lori Cook is a Hearing Aid Specialist with over seventeen years’ experience in the hearing healthcare industry. With a bachelor of arts in psychology and a master of science in social work from the University of Texas systems, Lori has a deep sense of concern both for her patients and her community.