Tinnitus is characterized as an abnormal perception of sound. People who suffer from tinnitus report hearing sounds such as ringing, buzzing, whooshing or whistling in one or more ears, a noise that isn’t perceived by others. The sound may be intermittent, constant or fluctuating. It may be severe or mild, fluctuation from a low roaring sensation to a high-pitched type sound.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is very common because it is a symptom of many diseases and ailments.
In fact, one of the reasons tinnitus is so prevalent in the population — with roughly 50 million Americans suffering from it — is because the condition is actually characterized as a symptom of some other issue. Causes of tinnitus include:
- Hearing loss, especially age-related hearing loss known as presbycusis
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Obstructions in the middle ear, such as excessive earwax, head congestion, loose hair and dirt or foreign objects
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Sinus pressure and barometric trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ototoxic medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), some antibiotics, some cancer medications, water pills or other diuretics or quinine-based medications
- Other diseases and medical conditions related to the metabolic and autoimmune systems, blood vessels, mental health and vestibular system.
Diagnosing tinnitus is easy, but diagnosing the issue causing the symptom can be more difficult. Often, diagnosis includes appointments with a primary health physician as well as an audiologist. Audiologists will be able to administer tests that determine the frequency of tinnitus, though these tests, which involved pitch-matching and loudness-matching, don’t have the highest accuracy rates.
Unfortunately, there is no single cure or solution to alleviate people from tinnitus. Sometimes, tinnitus is cured when the underlying cause is tackled. For example, tinnitus caused by hearing loss often subsides when a person begins wearing hearings aids. Alternatively, tinnitus caused by ototoxic medications often ceases when a person changes medications.
For tinnitus that isn’t as simple to eradicate, some people my turn to masking techniques or behavioral therapies that make coping with it easier. These techniques are as simple as listening to a fan or radio and as complex as undergoing vigorous behavioral therapy or biofeedback to change the way one interacts and responds to their tinnitus. Some management options include:
- Hearing aids
- Sound therapies
- Behavioral therapies
- Drug therapies
- TMJ treatments
- Experimental treatments
If you’re concerned you might be suffering from tinnitus, trust the professionals at Cosmetic Hearing Solutions to evaluate and help you manage your condition.