Tinnitus, the mysterious ringing sound many people get
in their ears, affects many. But what is it? This week is Tinnitus Awareness
Week, and is the perfect time to learn about this condition.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is when you hear a sound that doesn’t have an
external source, such as ringing, humming, buzzing, or chirps. About 30 million
Americans have tinnitus. Of them, about 13 million people report no hearing
loss. More than 25 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 84 have
Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease itself, so it can
have a number of causes. Tinnitus is most often caused by hearing loss,
specifically damage to the inner ear. Hearing loss is often due to aging or loud noise exposure. Tinnitus can
also be caused by thyroid problems, blood circulation problems, head or neck
injuries, and some medications.
In addition to hearing loss, tinnitus can be a sign of
ear-related problems such as wax buildup or ear infections, or even a benign
tumor on the auditory nerve.
How do I prevent tinnitus?
The best way to prevent tinnitus is to avoid exposure
to loud noises and to use protective hearing devices, such as earplugs or
Stress management and overall wellness measures can
also reduce the factors that contribute to tinnitus. Studies
have shown a correlation between people’s stress levels and tinnitus. Tinnitus
often worsens when people are stressed, so lowering their stress levels can
also lower their tinnitus levels.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, it can be managed
so it is no longer a daily problem for the patient. The most
common treatments include hearing aids, sound therapy, and cognitive behavioral
therapy. Sound therapy can include sound masking devices, such as white noise
or nature sound machines. It can also include modified sound devices, which
provide customized sounds designed around a patient’s specific case. Cognitive
behavioral therapy, meanwhile, helps patients deal with the emotional effects
of tinnitus, such as the frustration of dealing with the constant noise.
While tinnitus can be aggravating, understanding it can
help you learn to how to treat and deal with it so it doesn’t interfere with
your daily life.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an
appointment with any of our audiologists or ENT doctors, call