Tinnitus, often characterized as ringing in the ear, is a phantom noise that can only be heard by the person experiencing it. More than 50 million Americans report having this issue, and though it isn't considered a severe medical condition, it can be challenging to live with. If you have tinnitus, learn more about its causes and treatment options below.
What Is Tinnitus?
Symptoms of tinnitus include ringing, clicking, hissing, buzzing, roaring, or rushing sounds. The noise can sometimes be so loud that it may hinder your concentration or drown out other sounds. It can also come and go or be continuous, even interrupting sleep.
What Are the Causes?
As people get older, they tend to experience hearing loss, which can cause tinnitus. Also, loud noises from heavy equipment, firearms, and music can lead to the condition. Additionally, although earwax is protective, too much can irritate the eardrum, causing hearing loss that can lead to tinnitus. Finally, some antibiotics, cancer medications, diuretics, quinines, antidepressants, and very high doses of aspirin can lead to tinnitus, as well as conditions such as TMJ, Meniere's Disease, multiple sclerosis, head or neck injuries, and high blood pressure.
How Is It Diagnosed?
An audiologist will run hearing tests to rule out or diagnose tinnitus. The doctor will also ask you to clench your jaw and move your eyes, neck, arms, and legs to help diagnose any underlying conditions that need to be addressed. You might need to have a CT or MRI to make a final diagnosis.
What Are the Treatment Options?
If you have an underlying condition, a doctor will need to treat that first to help lessen the symptoms of tinnitus. You might need surgery or simply a non-invasive treatment, such as earwax removal, a medication change, or a prescription for nortriptyline, amitriptyline, or Xanax. A white noise machine can also be helpful, as well as hearing aids and tinnitus retraining. Finally, some patients have had luck with alternative medicines and treatments, such as ginkgo biloba, melatonin, zinc, vitamin B complex, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), hypnosis, and acupuncture.
If you think you may have tinnitus, visit the audiologists and staff at County Hearing And Balance for a hearing test and screening. They’ve been helping people throughout Southeastern and Shoreline, CT, with hearing loss for more than 40 years. Call (203) 245-1950 for your free consultation, and visit them online to learn more about how they can help you live a better life.