You might be wondering whether you have tinnitus and, if so, if this is something that there can be a solution to. Firstly, the answer is yes. If you are experiencing tinnitus in one or both ears, then it can be an upsetting and stressful condition. Before looking at causes and treatments, what is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound that has no external source. It can take the form of a buzzing or a ringing in one or both ears. It can also seem to generally be in the head region, but difficult to locate or determine exactly where it seems to originate from. It is a subjective noise and can only be heard by the person experiencing tinnitus. It might be different types of sound, or you might hear only one kind. What separates tinnitus from other hearing-related conditions is that it is only the person experiencing tinnitus who can hear it. It might be a humming, buzzing, whooshing or a ringing sound and could be in one or both ears and not always simultaneously if experienced in both.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of tinnitus, although it usually occurs as a symptom of an underlying condition. Some of the causes of tinnitus might be:
As the delicate hairs that line the ear canal become subject to general wear and tear as we age and hearing loss occurs, a condition known as presbycusis, tinnitus may become more apparent as the ringing (or whichever sound you experience as tinnitus) is no longer masked by external sounds.
Exposure to loud noises
This can cause a multitude of difficulties relating to hearing, not just tinnitus. If you work with loud noises or in an industry where this is something you regularly experience, ensure you take appropriate precautions. This can also damage the tiny hairs lining the inside of our ears. It may be prolonged exposure to noise that is too loud, or a short burst of sound which is far too loud. Both of these kinds of exposure have been linked to symptoms of tinnitus.
Stress and anxiety
It is not clear how linked stress and anxiety are to tinnitus, or whether these mental health difficulties make tinnitus more apparent, but it is worth keeping track of your general mood and emotional wellbeing if you are experiencing tinnitus.
Build-up of wax in the ear
When there’s excess wax in the ear, it can harden and become difficult to wash away naturally. This can cause hearing loss and irritation of the eardrum, which can lead to tinnitus. If you are concerned about earwax, then an audiologist will be able to easily and painlessly check your ears for a build-up. Your ears can then be syringed, an invasive but entirely pain-free procedure which, amongst other things, can help prevent ear infections and mild hearing loss caused by wax.
Any damage caused by ear infections is usually temporary, as the infection causing the underlying problem will be. However, if you are experiencing tinnitus due to an ear infection, it is vital to get the cause of the infection treated by an audiologist, doctor or hearing care expert, as they can develop more seriously if left untreated.
This is less common, but, on occasion, tinnitus may develop as a result of a head injury, changes in blood flow, reactions to certain medications, diabetes and thyroid disorders.
If you experience tinnitus or one or both ears, you may recognize one of the causes above as something you have undergone. If so, and you are concerned about the isolating and anxiety-causing potential of tinnitus, it’s worthwhile booking an appointment with an audiologist. They will be able to run a series of routine tests, which will be completely painless and ask you a series of questions relating to your symptoms.
Although a ‘cure’ for tinnitus does not exist, there are several management plans that you can put in place with your audiologist, which can help alleviate the symptoms and make it more bearable if you are finding tinnitus has a negative impact on your daily life and health. For example, tinnitus is often associated with people experiencing hearing loss, so correcting any hearing difficulties you are experiencing might be the first step to you becoming tinnitus-free. Other available options are sound therapy, relaxation and counseling, which will be helpful in assuaging any anxiety your tinnitus might be causing. Don’t delay – call The Hearing Doctors today at 630-752-9505 to effectively manage your tinnitus with a trained audiologist.