If you’ve ever experienced “ringing in the ears,” you’ve experienced tinnitus. It’s a common disorder that causes ringing, buzzing, roaring or clicking sounds that can be intermittent, constant or fluctuate. The sounds may be high-pitched or low-pitched. Tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease and can be associated with hearing loss, vertigo or other inner ear problems.
Tinnitus will not cause you to go deaf. Symptoms run from mild to severe. Some people find the noise disabling while others are not greatly bothered by it. About 50% of people with tinnitus say with time, tinnitus decreases greatly. About 75% of people with tinnitus say it’s not a problem because their brains process it as an everyday noise.
Palm Beach Hearing Associates offers complete evaluations for patients with tinnitus to help determine a possible cause and course of treatment.
Common causes of tinnitus
Because tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease, there are many causes:
- Stress and depression
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Meniere's disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
Treatment of tinnitus
Because tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition, treatment depends upon that condition and its severity. Most people do not need medical treatment for tinnitus.
One of the most common treatments for tinnitus is a hearing aid equipped with a tinnitus masking feature. This can be beneficial for individuals with or without hearing loss as it provides relief at any time of day and with ease. Some people find that their awareness of the tinnitus sound is reduced when there is some background noise such as a fan or sound generator.
Other treatments include acoustic therapy, where sounds are used to re-focus the brain away from paying attention to the tinnitus or biofeedback. That involves learning to control and relax various muscles. As you do so, the tinnitus generally subsides. Avoiding anxiety, getting enough sleep and reducing your caffeine and/or nicotine intake also help to diminish tinnitus.
Medication may be prescribed to help reduce tinnitus but what works for one person may not work for another. Additionally, some medications may list tinnitus as a side effect. It’s important to tell your hearing health professional about any prescription drugs or supplements you may be taking.
Chronic tinnitus can be debilitating and for those sufferers, psychological treatment may help. Support groups also can assist in reducing the anxiety and stress related to the tinnitus.
The professionals at Palm Beach Hearing Associates will work with you to determine the best course of action to treat your tinnitus.