Learn about the causes of tinnitus & treatment options including sound therapy now available in many hearing aid devices
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual. It has also been described as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing in the ear. These sounds may come and go; however, most sufferers experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The effects range from slight annoyance to severe disruption of everyday life. The American Tinnitus Association estimates that more than 60 million Americans suffer from tinnitus.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is most often a symptom of an underlying health condition, like a head or neck injury, ear infections, impacted earwax, or even side effects from certain medications or exposure to excessive noise. Tinnitus is also a common side effect of hearing loss, with measurable hearing loss reported in over 80% of tinnitus sufferers.
Tinnitus Treatment Options
Due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, Whittier Hearing Center audiologists are experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis. After completing a hearing test, your audiologist may refer you to an otolaryngologist for further examination.
Tinnitus Sound Therapy
In many cases, the distressing combination of tinnitus and hearing loss can be relieved with “hearing aid + tinnitus sound therapy” technology. This revolutionary combination of a noise-masking device with an amplified hearing system can restore ambient sounds, improve speech clarity, and give relief from the tinnitus. This is a relatively new therapy, though our patients so far are reporting excellent results.
If you would like more information on these new options please call Whittier Hearing Center at (562) 698-0581.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can tinnitus be cured?
Current research by neurologists suggests that altering certain areas of the brain that respond to sound — or a lack thereof — may provide relief.
Experiments to regrow broken hair cells have also been performed. Regrowth of hair cells means that hearing is restored, which prevents the brain from attempting to fill the void left by a lack of hair cells, ultimately ending tinnitus.
Both theories are likely years away from clinical trials, which means a greater period of time until any possible cure hits the market. Curing tinnitus may be possible, but likely not in the near future.
Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?
No. Tinnitus is a symptom of any number of conditions, including hearing loss.
Can tinnitus be directly measured?
Rarely. There is a form of tinnitus referred to as “objective tinnitus” that your doctor can hear. This is typically the result of a blood vessel problem, an inner ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.
Why is tinnitus worse at night?
In our daily lives, sounds around us typically mask tinnitus to some degree. At night, when things are quiet, there’s less noise and fewer mental distractions. If your tinnitus is stress-related, it’s also possible that the cumulative stress of your day has made your symptoms worse.
Are there medications for tinnitus?
Almost all of the “surefire” remedies for tinnitus found on the Internet are based on junk science, case studies, or no real evidence at all. But there are some things you can try to help lessen symptoms, including:
Limiting exposure to loud noises Lowering your blood pressure Ingesting less salt Limiting exposure to alcohol