The Noise in Your Ears: Facts About Tinnitus
Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, orhissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or all the time? Doesthe sound bother you a lot? If you answer yes to these questions, you may havetinnitus (tin-NY-tus).
Tinnitus is a symptom associated with many formsof hearing loss. It can also be a symptom of other health problems. Roughly 25million Americans have experienced tinnitus. Some cases are so severe that itinterferes with a person’s daily activities. People with severe cases oftinnitus may find it difficult to hear, work, or even sleep.
What causes tinnitus?
- Hearing loss- Doctorsand scientists have discovered that people with different kinds of hearing lossalso have tinnitus.
- Loud noise- Too muchexposure to loud noise can cause noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Medicine- More than 200 medicines can causetinnitus. If you have tinnitus and you take medicine, ask your doctor orpharmacist whether your medicine could be contributing to your tinnitus.
- Other health problemsthat may cause tinnitus include allergies, tumors, problems in the heart andblood vessels, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, and neck discomfort.
What should I do if I have tinnitus?
The most important thing you can do is to go seeyour doctor. The otolaryngologist (ear nose and throat physician) will examineyour ears to try to determine why you have tinnitus. The audiologist or thedoctor that specializes in hearing aids and treatment of hearing loss willconduct a hearing test and if necessary fit you with hearing aids that meetyour needs.
How will hearing experts treat my tinnitus?
Although there is no cure for tinnitus,scientists and doctors have discovered several treatments that may give yousome relief. Not every treatment works for everyone, so you may need to tryseveral to find the ones that help.
Treatments can include:
- Many people withtinnitus also have a hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid makes it easier forsome people to hear the sounds they need to hear by making them louder. Thebetter you hear other people talking or the music you like, the less you noticeyour tinnitus.
- Maskers are smallelectronic devices that use sound to make tinnitus less noticeable. Maskers donot make tinnitus go away, but they make the ringing or roaring seem softer.For some people, maskers hide their tinnitus so well that they can barely hearit. Some people sleep better when theyuse maskers. Listening to static at a low volume on the radio or using bedsidemaskers can help.
- Tinnitus retrainingtherapy (TRT) uses a combination of counseling and maskers. Some people learnhow to fatigue their tinnitus. It takes time for this treatment to work, but itcan be very helpful.
- People with tinnitus maybecome depressed. Talking with a counselor or people in tinnitus support groupsmay be helpful.
- Learning how to relax isvery helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress makes tinnitusseem worse. By relaxing, you have a chance to rest and better deal with thesound.