Help for Tinnitus
Our audiologist served for 9 years as an active duty Air Force audiologist and has multiple certifications and specific training with treating tinnitus. Tinnitus is the number one disability of returning veterans. Call anytime to schedule a free tinnitus consultation with our audiologist to find out what we can do to help. You can also visit the American Tinnitus Association for more information. Below is a list of common questions and answers.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant-with single or multiple tones-and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
There currently is no “cure” for tinnitus. However, in the majority of cases, tinnitus can be managed by treating the underlying cause or by using a combination of sound therapy and counseling to reduce the loudness of the sound and lessen the impact it has on the person. It is important to note that treatment outcomes vary depending on the specific cause of tinnitus, how long a patient has had tinnitus and other competing health factors.
Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?
No – tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease. Many people commonly confuse tinnitus as being the cause or underlying condition. Hearing loss is either conductive (problem with outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (problem with inner ear) and classified by different categories: mild, moderate, severe and profound. Hearing loss is a complex process and due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary.
However, in many cases tinnitus accompanies hearing loss. Because hearing loss can be caused by noise damage to the ear, an individual can get both hearing loss and tinnitus from noise damage. However the two do not always occur together. There are many who have no measurable hearing loss but have tinnitus.
How many people have tinnitus?
50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus to some degree. Of these, about 16 million have it severe enough tinnitus to seek medical attention and about two million patients are so seriously debilitated that they cannot function on a “normal,” day-to-day basis.
What causes tinnitus?
We have made tremendous advances through research, based on what is known about the auditory (hearing) system – sound is detected by the ear and processed by the brain. On the other hand, the exact physiological cause or causes of tinnitus are not known. There are, however, several likely sources, all of which are known to trigger or worsen tinnitus.
- Noise exposure – Exposure to loud noises can damage and even destroy hair cells, called cilia, in the inner ear. Once damaged, these hair cells cannot be renewed or replaced.
- Head and neck trauma – Physical trauma to the head and neck can induce tinnitus. Other symptoms include headaches, vertigo, and memory loss.
- Certain disorders, such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, Meniere’s disease, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and thoracic outlet syndrome, can have tinnitus as a symptom. When tinnitus is a symptom of another disorder, treating the disorder can help alleviate the tinnitus.
- Certain types of tumors
- Wax build-up
- Jaw misalignment
- Cardiovascular disease
- Ototoxicity – Some medications are ototoxic, that is, the medications are harmful or damaging to the ear. Other medications will produce tinnitus as a side effect without damaging the inner ear. Effects, which can depend on the dosage of the medication, can be temporary or permanent. Before taking any medication, make sure that your prescribing physician is aware of your tinnitus, and discuss alternative medications that may be available.
- Pulsatile tinnitus – Rare type of tinnitus that sounds like a rhythmic pulsing in the ear, typically in time with one’s heartbeat. This kind of tinnitus can be caused by abnormal blood flow in arteries or veins close to the inner ear, brain tumors or irregularities in brain structure