What is tinnitus, exactly? This buzzing or ringing in your ears is often brief for some individuals following exposure to loud sounds, while for others, the volume only increases at night and during the quiet periods of the day.
Over 45 million Americans are noticing a ringing in the ears, making tinnitus one of the more prevalent health problems in the United States. Among the most popular health issues, tinnitus is more often experienced by people between the ages of 55 and 65, and at least 50% of individuals returning from war zones experience it.
The Types of Tinnitus
Subjective tinnitus comprises 95% of all tinnitus cases. This situation occurs when only the person experiencing tinnitus can hear the sounds. Sometimes noises are created in the brain in place of the missing auditory signals. The brain doesn't receive the necessary auditory signals if hair cells in the inner ear do not function normally. There are many different potential causes of subjective tinnitus, including ototoxic drugs that can damage inner ear hair cells. A hearing test can help determine whether hearing loss is also present, and treatment often includes the prescription of hearing aids.
Causes of Tinnitus
Hearing loss, which might occur gradually or, suddenly, is the most common cause of tinnitus. Two significant causes can result in hearing loss, which ultimately leads to tinnitus: repeated or prolonged exposure to loud noises, and also hair cell loss in the ear. Otitis media or eardrum irritation caused by background noise may lead to temporary tinnitus, as objects like ear wax, loose hair, or dirt can irritate the eardrum and contribute to sound in the ear.
That being said, tinnitus is also considered an underlying symptom that pops up with other medical conditions. It is important to seek treatment and address tinnitus if you find the sounds occurring more frequently in your daily life.
In some instances, tinnitus management may be as simple as eliminating the obstruction in the ear canal or treating the infection. If tinnitus is linked to hearing loss (which it often is), there are several treatment options.
Hearing aid manufacturers have addressed this issue by incorporating sound therapy in their advanced hearing aids. More often than not, those who experience tinnitus related to hearing loss will often benefit from wearing hearing aids. As such, at The McGuire Hearing Center, our tinnitus management often begins with a consultation and hearing exam.
Dr. McGuire has ample experience in helping patients who struggle with symptoms of tinnitus. She takes a comprehensive approach, addressing one’s lifestyle, potential hearing loss, and other factors that may contribute to the condition. You do not have to live with the frustrating experience of tinnitus. To find out more about how we can help, simply call to set up an appointment today!