What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often described as “ringing” or “buzzing” in the ears, but it can be any sound or combination of sounds. Tinnitus results from nerve activity that the brain interprets as “sound.” Everyone experiences tinnitus sometimes. Some people experience constant or near-constant tinnitus.
What are the main causes of tinnitus?
The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises. It can also result from head injury, medications or earwax. It can be impossible to know the exact cause of tinnitus because it is associated with so many conditions, such as high blood pressure, stress, dental problems, metabolic problems and high cholesterol.
Connection between hearing loss and tinnitus
Damage to the ears often results in both hearing loss and tinnitus. However, they do not always occur together. Tinnitus does not cause hearing loss but sometimes can seem to interfere with hearing. An audiologist can determine if you have a hearing problem.
Ideal Candidates for Tinnitus Treatment
Treatment can make tinnitus less of a problem. Not everyone with tinnitus needs treatment. Treatment may be helpful for you if your tinnitus is affecting your sleep, ability to concentrate, emotional well being, or daily activities. You may need a medical evaluation if your tinnitus is on one side of the head, or if you have changes in your hearing, ear pain, head, or neck problems, or balance issues.
What treatments do healthcare professionals provide?
A physician can often help if your tinnitus is causing sleep problems, anxiety, or depression. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician can check for any medical problems that may be causing your tinnitus. Check with your physician to find out if tinnitus is a side effect of your medication. Have your physician check your ears for earwax.
Some audiologists have been trained in tinnitus treatment. Two methods used by audiologist are masking and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). These methods focus on making tinnitus less of a problem. Sometimes hearing aids can be used to treat tinnitus.
Many psychological methods have been used to manage pain and reduce stress. These methods can be helpful in treating tinnitus. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has been successful in treating pain. This method has been adapted to treat tinnitus.
Complementary and alternative providers
Many “complementary and alternative” methods have been suggested for tinnitus. These include vitamins and herbs, acupuncture, naturopathic treatment, hypnosis, and others.
What can I do about my Tinnitus?
Avoid loud noise, this can make your tinnitus temporarily or permanently worse. Protect yourself from loud noise such as, loud music, power tools, chain saws, guns, and factory noises. When you are around these types of noises use earplugs or earmuffs. Avoid total silence, being in a quiet room may make your tinnitus more noticeable. To help with this, try being around low volume, pleasant sounds, such as music or nature sounds (especially water). Devices that produce sound include radios, CD players, tabletop fountains, sound generators, and electric fans.
Lifestyle changes that might help:
- Reduce excessive use of caffeine, alcohol, salt, aspirin and nicotine
- Reduce stress as much as possible
- Get adequate sleep
- Keep your mind and body busy with meaningful activities
- Establish a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
How will hearing aids affect my tinnitus?
Some people with hearing loss find that hearing aids make tinnitus less noticeable. Hearing aids can help with a hearing problem by amplifying sounds. This also keeps the ears “busy” causing the condition to be less bothersome.
Schedule a Consultation
For more information about our hearing center and hearing testing for tinnitus, call 972.984.1050 to schedule a consultation. The ENT & Allergy Centers of Texas serve McKinney, Plano, Allen and surrounding areas.