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Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or hissing sensation in your ears or head. But the sound perceived isn’t caused by an external noise. More than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus for a number of different reasons. To determine how to best treat tinnitus, it’s important to understand its symptoms and causes.

Sounds of tinnitus

Tinnitus can be described a number of different ways, but the most common descriptions include:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Whooshing
  • Hissing 
  • Clicking

These sounds are typically heard only by the person experiencing the tinnitus. In rare cases, tinnitus can be detected by the physician or audiologist. Tinnitus can constant or intermittent. Some people are not bothered by their tinnitus; others may have trouble sleeping or concentrating with their tinnitus because they feel as though it never “shuts off.”

Causes of tinnitus

There are several factors that can cause tinnitus, including the following:

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Medication
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear infection
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Earwax buildup
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Vascular disorders

Tinnitus is most commonly associated with hearing loss. It may be caused by one or more of these conditions. For some, it can be resolved easily if the cause is temporary, such as an infection or a buildup of earwax.

Tinnitus treatments

Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, there are a number of different treatment methods available to help you find relief. Your audiologist will assess the severity of your tinnitus, how it impedes your daily life, and the possible causes. They may recommend one of the following solution:

  • Address the problem: If your tinnitus is due to earwax build up, medication or infection, they’ll recommend the proper course to resolve the issue. This may include removing the earwax, switching medications or antibiotics. Behavioral therapy may also be recommended to help treat the varying emotions you may experience with tinnitus, from anxiety to anger. 
  • Hearing aids: Hearing devices are incredibly helpful in treating tinnitus. Even if a hearing loss isn’t present, hearing aids can be equipped with tinnitus-masking features that help cover the tinnitus  and offer relief from the unwanted noise.
  • White noise machines: If your tinnitus isn’t as severe or only experienced at night time, a white noise machine may be ideal for helping you find relief. White noise machines produce a steady sound to help mask the tinnitus noises you hear.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): TRT is a form of therapy designed to help individuals with tinnitus find relief. This therapy involves retraining your mind to block out and hear certain tones, which in turn, helps to ease the symptoms caused by tinnitus.

If you are suffering from tinnitus schedule an appointment with an audiologist to be evaluated. The audiologist will evaluate your tinnitus and recommend the appropriate management options.