What is Tinnitus?
The ringing, hissing, buzzing, whistling, or humming sensation that occurs in a person’s ears without the presence of any external stimuli is known as Tinnitus. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
The extent of Tinnitus can range from a mild ringing sensation to a severe roaring sensation. It is important to note that Tinnitus can also occur temporarily as a result of stress or fatigue, but this type of Tinnitus does not have any significant detrimental effect on people.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom that something is wrong in the auditory system, which includes the ear, the auditory nerve, and the parts of the brain that process sound. Something as simple as a piece of earwax blocking the ear canal can cause tinnitus. But it can also be the result of a number of health conditions, such as:
- Hearing loss. Most people who have tinnitus also have some kind of hearing loss.
- Loud noise. Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Continued exposure can make the tinnitus and hearing loss get worse.
- Medicine. More than 200 medicines, including aspirin, can cause tinnitus. If you have tinnitus and you take medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your medicine could be involved.
- Other potential causes. Allergies, tumors, problems in the heart and blood vessels, jaws, and neck can cause tinnitus.
What should I do if I have tinnitus?
The first step is to see an audiologist for an evaluation. A careful history and audiometric testing will lead to the most likely causes and best treatment for your tinnitus. You may be referred to an ENT for further evaluation as necessary.
How will hearing experts treat my tinnitus?
Although there is no cure for tinnitus, several treatments that may give you some relief have been discovered. Not every treatment works for everyone. Our dedicated team will work with you to find the solution that will help you best. Treatments can include:
- Hearing aids. Most people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids create a dual benefit of enhancing hearing and masking or covering up the tinnitus. The majority of patients with tinnitus receive partial or complete relief from their tinnitus with the use of hearing aids.
- Sound Therapy. Tinnitus maskers are small electronic devices that look like hearing aids and are tuned to generate sound that masks or covers up the tinnitus. Like hearing aids, they may provide relief from the tinnitus, but will not enhance hearing and may interfere with understanding speech.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Tinnitus Therapy. This treatment uses a combination of testing, counseling and specialized masking to help you to effectively manage and gradually reduce your response to the tinnitus. This treatment can take six months or more to complete but has the highest rate of success.
- Many types of devices, such as fans, radios and sound generators can be used as tinnitus maskers to help tinnitus sufferers to fall sleep or get back to sleep.
- Medicine or drug therapy. Some tinnitus sufferers develop anxiety and other strong emotional responses to their tinnitus. Certain medicines may provide relief from these emotional reactions and provide some relief from the tinnitus. Other medicines and nutritional supplements have provided relief in some patients.
- Counseling. People with tinnitus may experience anxiety, depression and other psychiatric problems. You may be referred to a psychiatrist or counselor as needed.
- Relaxing. Learning how to relax is very helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress makes tinnitus seem worse. By relaxing, you have a chance to rest and better deal with the sound.
Types of Tinnitus
- Subjective tinnitus is what is more commonly considered when we talk about tinnitus. It refers to a phantom ringing that only you are able to hear while no one else can. This can occur due to problems in either the inner, middle or the outer parts of your ear. It can also be caused due to damage to the auditory nerves within the brain which are responsible for deciphering sound.
- Objective tinnitus is a strange phenomenon since it can actually be heard by not only you but even by your doctor when they examine your ear. This particularly rare category of tinnitus results from a problem in your blood vessels, irregular muscle contractions, or problems within the bone structure of your inner ear.
Does Insurance Cover Tinnitus?
Insurance does not cover the cost of tinnitus counseling and management.
Tinnitus Diagnosis & Treatment in Centerville, OH
At Centerville Hearing Center, our audiologist offers comprehensive, personalized tinnitus treatment options. We will go through your medical history and do a full ear exam including a hearing evaluation to better understand what caused the ringing in your ears and what makes it worse. This will help us determine which tinnitus management options are right for you.