Over 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, a condition marked by a persistent ringing (or whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing) in one or both ears. These sounds may come and go or continue uninterrupted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is an annoyance for some, but can seriously disrupt everyday life for others.
Tinnitus, considered a symptom rather than a condition, has many possible causes. These include hearing loss, noise exposure, stress, head or neck injuries, migraines, impacted earwax, ototoxic medications, Meniere’s disease and more. Sometimes, the cause is unknown. Those most at risk are older, males, smokers and people with cardiovascular problems.
Most cases of tinnitus are subjective, meaning only the patient can hear the ringing noises. In some instances, tinnitus is objective; when this occurs, another person – usually the patient’s doctor – can hear the sounds of tinnitus during an examination. Additionally, tinnitus is classified as either pulsatile (keeping rhythm with the patient’s heartbeat) or nonpulsatile. The former type is rare, and usually the result of vascular irregularities.
There is no single cure for tinnitus, but solutions do exist. Since each case is unique, you should see a hearing professional for a hearing test and treatment plan designed specifically for you. You may be referred to an otolaryngologist for further evaluation and specialized treatment, if necessary. Tinnitus, especially when coupled with hearing loss, can be very distressing. In many cases, hearing aid technology offers relief from symptoms. This hearing system can restore ambient sounds and help eliminate the effects of tinnitus. An electronic device called a Masker, which fits in the ear much like a hearing aid, emits low-level sounds that distract from the ringing sensation. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) may be employed to help manage the condition. This is an involved process that combines low-level, steady background sounds played through a device with intensive counseling over a 12-24 month time period.
Our professionals will review options on a case-by-case basis to determine the best method of treatment for each individual.