Do You Have Ringing in the Ears or Tinnitus?
Tinnitus – ringing, roaring, clicking, and/or hissing sounds in the ear — is a symptom associated with many forms of hearing loss. Roughly 25 million Americans have experienced tinnitus and in some cases the effects are so severe it interferes with their daily activities. It can and should be diagnosed by a hearing care specialist because tinnitus can also be a symptom of other health problems.
Tinnitus can affect everything you do. The symptoms make it difficult to hear, work, and even sleep. In addition to making you feel sluggish and ill, lack of sleep can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms.
What Causes Tinnitus
Tinnitus may be caused by:
- 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 become worse.
- Medication: 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 the cause.
- Other potential causes: Allergies, tumors, problems in the heart and blood vessels, jaws, and neck can cause tinnitus.
What Is the “Tinnitus Cycle”?
Tinnitus most commonly results from hearing loss caused by exposure to excessive or loud noises, however it can also be caused by aging, ototoxic drugs, temporo-mandibular joint disorder (TMJ), depression, anxiety, Lyme disease or thyroid disorders, as well as ear infections or wax in the ear.
Normally, background neurological activity in the brain is covered up by everyday sounds. However neurological changes may then cause the perceived sound to be more noticeable and disturbing.
For some people, the presence of tinnitus is troubling, and so the brain treats it as important and focuses on it, increasing awareness. This “increased awareness” can lead to stress, resulting in further enhancement by the emotional centers of the brain, and further amplification of the tinnitus.
Additionally, the brain can try to compensate for the hearing loss by “turning up” the sensitivity of the hearing system. This not only amplifies the tinnitus but can also make ordinary sounds uncomfortably loud for some people, further adding to stress and anxiety.
The result is a cycle of symptoms that can be self-reinforcing, leading to progressive worsening of the tinnitus over time. These factors have made tinnitus very difficult to treat in the past.
The good news is that there are breakthrough treatments that can significantly reduce tinnitus awareness and disturbance for over 90% of suitable patients affected by tinnitus.
What You Should Do NOW
A careful review of your health history along with audio-metric testing will lead to the most likely causes and best treatment for your tinnitus. If you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, you should make an appointment to see us or the staff at Hear In Kentucky for an evaluation.