What Is Tinnitus?
Though the common misconception about tinnitus is that it’s a disease, tinnitus is actually a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual.
Many who suffer from tinnitus describe the annoying sound as ringing in the ear, but a whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing sound is also possible. For some, these sounds come and go. But most are not that lucky, and will experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
These phantom sounds may cause only a slight annoyance, or they may severely disrupt everyday life. The American Tinnitus Association estimates more than 50 million Americans suffer from at least occasional bouts of tinnitus.
What Causes Tinnitus?
There are a number of causes, with the most common being exposure to loud noise. In this case, your hearing may be temporarily or permanently damaged, depending upon the intensity and duration of the sound.
We can’t always tell whether your temporary damage will become permanent, but tinnitus is usually representative of an inner-ear problem. Tinnitus research is ongoing, and the mechanisms that cause tinnitus in the brain and inner ear are being more closely studied. Some possible causes are:
In rare cases, tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel disorder, resulting in pulsatile tinnitus. This type of tinnitus may be caused by a head or neck tumor, a buildup of cholesterol in the circulatory system, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, or malformation of the capillaries surrounding the ear. The result is a tinnitus that sends out pulsing signals in conjunction with the flow of your heartbeat.
Is There a Cure?
There is currently no cure for tinnitus; however, there are ways to manage your tinnitus and help reduce its affect on your daily life. Management techniques are successful approximately 90% of the time. We will work with you to find the best possible solution for your needs.
What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus?
Diagnostic testing by an audiologist and a medical evaluation by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician will rule out possible medical factors that could be causing or contributing to your tinnitus. Because your tinnitus symptoms are personal and unique in nature, an in-depth evaluation will help us create a specialized treatment plan for you.
Although there isn’t a cure for tinnitus, our audiologists have the knowledge and expertise to provide you with treatment methods that can help lessen the impact that tinnitus has on your life. In many cases, the distressing combination of tinnitus and hearing loss can be relieved with appropriate amplification.
There are a number of treatment options, including:
Appropriate Amplification: A good treatment for those who experience hearing loss; thereby improving overall hearing ability and eliminating the perception of ringing.
Sound Therapy: The use of external sound to decrease the perception of ringing.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A type of counseling that helps to change the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus by altering negative thought patterns and helping to relieve stress.