When your ears ring, whistle, buzz, or pulsate and the sound doesn’t seem to stop, it usually means you have what’s called tinnitus.
This is something 50 million Americans suffer from, but the severity of it ranges from just being annoying to it being so debilitating that the person can’t work or do many activities.
Tinnitus can disrupt your sleep, affect your concentration, and cause stress and depression. Thankfully, there are ways to lessen the noise you hear, but to date, no absolute cure has been found.
Tinnitus can actually help in one way, though – it can be an indicator of one or more health disorders that might not have been diagnosed yet such as hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, a vestibular disorder, or acute sensitivity to sound.
This is why seeing one of our hearing care experts can help so much, as we are trained to check for all possible causes of your tinnitus.
The Causes of Tinnitus
The main causes of tinnitus are working in a loud-noise environment for more than five years and certain health conditions. Certain drugs used to treat cancer, kidney disease, heart conditions, and malaria can cause tinnitus too.
A loud noise environment can be created by industrial or farming machines, hunting, a military career, motorsports, or music events.
Health conditions that cause tinnitus can include hearing loss and vestibular problems – the part of the hearing system that helps with balance and spatial orientation.
Hearing loss becomes more common as a person ages, with 25% of people in the US experiencing some form of it after the age of 55.
Types of Tinnitus
Despite the many sounds of tinnitus, there are two types of it. The one 99% of people have is called subjective tinnitus, which is caused by problems in your hearing system.
The second type is called objective tinnitus, and it’s caused by medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney problems, or head injuries.
Treatment and Management of Tinnitus
Because so many cases of tinnitus are caused by hearing loss, this is the first thing to check. A hearing assessment performed by one of our hearing care experts is non-invasive and performed in a comfortable setting. It will help us assess your level of hearing health and also help us find out exactly what your tinnitus sounds like in terms of volume, pitch, and sound.
We get the results immediately, so we can discuss them with you right after the test and decide together how to treat the ringing in your ears and how to treat your hearing loss, if you have any.
Treatment of your tinnitus can consist of a custom mix of recommendations to help improve your enjoyment of daily life without your tinnitus overwhelming you. These can include:
- Hearing aids for any hearing loss
- Sound masking therapies
- Biofeedback relaxation exercises
- Drug therapies to help with any related stress, anxiety, or depression
- Health and wellness improvements such as quitting smoking and limiting alcohol and coffee consumption
- Treatment of any medical issues contributing to the tinnitus such as TMJ.
We’ll also share how to prevent future hearing damage, which will help prevent worse tinnitus, such as protecting your ears from loud noises and maintaining your physical and hearing health.
Contact us today at one of our West Coast Hearing & Balance offices to book your hearing assessment at one of our hearing centers, and feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about how to have your tinnitus checked and what treatment might look like.