Often mistaken for a disease, tinnitus is actually a symptom, a condition in which a person experiences persistent ringing in one or both ears; some have described the experience as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or even a pulsing sound. Whatever form it takes, tinnitus can only be heard by the affected individual. For some people. Tinnitus sounds come and go. But for most, the sounds are persistent, continuing 24/7/365.
The Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is usually representative of an inner-ear problem, and is often caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise. Depending on the intensity of the sound, your hearing may be damaged temporarily or permanently; whether or not temporary damage will become permanent is something that can’t always be determined. Other possible causes of tinnitus are: certain medications, diet, head trauma, stress, eardrum blockage, jaw joint disorders and hearing loss. Mechanisms that cause tinnitus in the brain and inner ear are the subject of ongoing research.
In rare cases, a blood vessel disorder may result in “pulsatile tinnitus,” which sends pulsing signals in concert with your heartbeat. It can be caused by a tumor of the head or neck head, a buildup of circulatory system cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, blood flow turbulence or malformed capillaries surrounding the ear.
A Cure for Tinnitus?
At present, there is no cure for tinnitus. But our hearing professionals will help you find out what’s causing your tinnitus and explore possibilities for reducing its effect on your life. Sometimes, simply changing your diet or medication regimen can help with your symptoms. Relaxation techniques can also be a source of relief.
What Tinnitus Treatment Options Are Available?
Having your hearing tested and evaluated by an otologist will determine if medical factors might be causing or contributing to your tinnitus. The individual nature of the tinnitus experience makes an in-depth evaluation key to helping us determine your unique needs and creating a specialized treatment plan for you.
Our Hearing Instrument Specialists are trained to provide treatment methods that can help lessen the impact of tinnitus. Hearing technology can, in many cases, relieve the burden caused by the combination of tinnitus and hearing loss. Treatment options include:
- Hearing Technology that can improve hearing overall and eliminate perceived ringing.
- Maskers that are fitted to the ear like hearing aids and produce low-level sounds to distract the wearer from tinnitus.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy which combines sound therapy and counseling designed to alter brain signals and weaken the perception of tinnitus.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is counseling focused on altering negative thought patterns and relieving stress with the goal of changing the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus.
Personal Hearing Systems are the most popular treatment for people who experience both tinnitus and hearing loss. Such systems can improve hearing and often reduce or even eliminate the experience of tinnitus sounds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can tinnitus be cured?
Current research by neurologists suggests that altering certain areas of the brain that respond to sound — or a lack thereof — may provide relief.
Experiments to regrow broken hair cells have also been performed. Regrowth of hair cells means that hearing is restored, which prevents the brain from attempting to fill the void left by a lack of hair cells, ultimately ending tinnitus.
Both theories are likely years away from clinical trials, which means a greater period of time until any possible cure hits the market. Curing tinnitus may be possible, but likely not in the near future.
Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?
No. Tinnitus is a symptom of any number of conditions, including hearing loss.
Can tinnitus be directly measured?
Rarely. There is a form of tinnitus referred to as “objective tinnitus” that your doctor can hear. This is typically the result of a blood vessel problem, an inner ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.
Why is tinnitus worse at night?
In our daily lives, sounds around us typically mask tinnitus to some degree. At night, when things are quiet, there’s less noise and fewer mental distractions. If your tinnitus is stress-related, it’s also possible that the cumulative stress of your day has made your symptoms worse.
Are there medications for tinnitus?
Almost all of the “surefire” remedies for tinnitus found on the Internet are based on junk science, case studies, or no real evidence at all. But there are some things you can try to help lessen symptoms, including:
Limiting exposure to loud noises
Lowering your blood pressure
Ingesting less salt
Limiting exposure to alcohol
Products & Services
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