Tinnitus is the term for perceived noise or ringing in the ears. It is a condition that can be disabling at its worst and is bothersome at best. There are a number of causes when it comes to tinnitus, but each of them results in the same perceived ringing, whooshing or buzzing noise. These sounds are generally only heard by the person and are not from an external source.
At Hearing and Balance Centers of West Tennessee, we understand how intrusive tinnitus can be to your life, that’s why our staff works hard to determine the causes behind your tinnitus and form a treatment plan to help you get the relief you need.
Causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things, but is commonly contributed to changes in the ear structures like the fine hairs in the middle ear that transmit sound. It is often accompanied by hearing loss. Exposure to loud noise, aging and many diseases can cause tinnitus, just as these can cause hearing loss. Earwax, dirt and congestion can contribute to tinnitus. Head or neck injuries and even some drugs can cause tinnitus.
Tinnitus presents as a whooshing or ringing sound; has been described as buzzing or screeching. Many refer to it as cicada noise, from the loudly buzzing insect. There are three types:
- Tonal tinnitus is a continuous single sound
- Pulsatile tinnitus is a noise or set of noises that seem to change volume or pattern in a wave
- Musical tinnitus sounds like singing or music. This rare form is also known as musical ear syndrome.
In many cases, patients get some relief from tinnitus by using extraneous noise methods to counteract the drone of the condition. This could include a number of relief options, such as: hearing aids, sound machines and therapy.
Hearing aids: Hearing aids are a common treatment for tinnitus when they’re equipped with sound masking features. The sound masking feature provides a consistent noise to counteract the tinnitus symptoms you are experiencing. Additionally, because tinnitus is often accompanied by hearing loss, hearing aids can help alleviate both conditions.
Sound machine: If your tinnitus is mild, you might be asked to try a sound machine. This device projects a white-noise sound designed to help override, or “block out,” the tinnitus sounds you’re experiencing. These are often used at night to help you sleep through the noise.
Tinnitus retraining therapy: This type of therapy works to help you block out the tinnitus sounds on your own. It is usually performed in combination with other treatments and requires close counseling with your audiologist.
Tinnitus doesn’t have to impact your life. Schedule an appointment with an audiologist at Hearing and Balance Centers of West Tennessee and let us find the relief you need to your tinnitus.