Ringing In the Ears? Treatments For Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a short-term, or long-term, sound in the head that can range from irritating to severely disabling – the latter so much so that people find work and sleep very difficult.
The sound of tinnitus can be different for every person, but the most common one is a high-pitched ringing sound. Other sounds include buzzing, hissing, whistling, clicking, swooshing, chirping, or even music. The sound can come and go or it can be constant.
Roughly 10 to 15% of US adults have experienced tinnitus lasting at least five minutes over the period of a year, making it one of the more common ailments we see in our clinic.
The CDC reported in an older study that “30% of people reporting tinnitus [in the survey] classified their condition as a ‘moderate’ to ‘very big’ problem in their life.”
Subjective tinnitus Is caused by a disruption or alteration to the way sound is processed in the auditory pathway.
About 90% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss, which can cause tinnitus by making up sounds in the brain to replace the lack of hearing and processing certain tones.
Other causes of tinnitus include:
- Earwax buildup
- Certain medications that damage hearing
- Loud noise exposure
- Nerve damage
- Buildup of fluid or pus from an ear infection
- A blockage in the ear canal
- Severe allergies
- Muscle or jaw tension or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
The sound of tinnitus here is usually caused by noise in blood vessels that have been affected by a medical illness or condition.
- Medical conditions of the auditory system or circulatory system
- Head trauma, brain or middle ear tumors, diseases of the brain
- Heart or kidney issues
Tinnitus – Pulsatile
Pulsatile tinnitus, a less common tyle of tinnitus, is diagnosed when you can hear your heartbeat pulsating. This might be caused by:
- An inner ear injury
- A head injury or something else affecting the flow of blood in the neck and brain
Cure For Tinnitus
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the tinnitus sounds your brain makes, but there are more and more successful ways to treat it every day.
If your doctor has told you to forget about having any hope for reducing the sound, come see us at South Shore Hearing Center and we’ll put a treatment plan together for you that makes a difference.
A primary care doctor, an ear, nose, throat (ENT) specialist, or an audiologist can accurately diagnose tinnitus, and they will refer you to a specialist if they suspect the tinnitus is caused by a medical condition that needs to be treated ASAP, such as a head injury.
For the 90% of patients whose tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, we find that treating the hearing loss will reduce the tinnitus considerably. Many of the newer hearing aids have a tinnitus masking feature to help even further.
Sometimes the hearing aids will remove the tinnitus completely because they get the hearing center of the brain working properly again.
For the remaining 10%, there are several treatment options available that have proven success rates. These include:
- Tinnitus masking, tone-generating, and white noise machines – work with your audiologist to determine how much masking is safe
- Brain retraining – retrains the brains to focus on other sounds
- Quitting smoking and alcohol and coffee consumption – very hard for some, but it can make a big difference!
- Chiropractic care – to work on the jaw and neck
- Stress-reducing exercises
- Avoiding loud noise or wearing good hearing protection
Treatment doesn’t change things instantly as it takes time for the brain to adjust to its retraining, so be prepared to try it for at least a few months before seeing results.
Find Tinnitus Relief At South Shore Hearing Center
The first step toward treating tinnitus is to have a tinnitus evaluation so we can see if you are one of the 90% whose tinnitus is related to hearing loss.
We’ll share the results with you immediately after and discuss treatment options for your hearing loss first, if this is the case.
If we find that your tinnitus is caused by a medical issue you were unaware of, we’ll refer you to the right specialist for treatment of that. If it’s just caused by earwax buildup, we can remove that for you.
If the hearing treatment doesn’t take care of the tinnitus, or if you have no hearing loss, then we can discuss all the other treatment options we have available. We’ll keep working through your many options until you feel your tinnitus is manageable.
We look forward to helping you find relief from your tinnitus.