Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments For Tinnitus

March 2, 2020 2:07 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

There’s an old adage that if your ears are ringing, someone, somewhere, is talking about you. And while this very well may be coincidentally true in some cases, the probability of it being correlative is quite low. However, if it were true, Tinnitus’s ears would be ringing today, because that’s what we’re going to be talking about.

Tinnitus: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments For TinnitusTinnitus may affect as many as 50 million adults in the United States — somewhere in the range of about 15% of people. So before we even start digging in, know that if you are someone who struggles, suffers, or even loses sleep because of the ringing in your ears, you are not alone

With multiple locations across California, Valley Hearing Center works to test hearing, helps to identify problems, and gets people connected with the resources and devices they need to improve their hearing so they can more fully participate with their family, friends, and surroundings.

Today, we’re highlighting tinnitus, a common, yet also commonly misunderstood hearing problem that often goes untreated. If you think you may have tinnitus or another hearing problem, the team of audiologists and board-certified hearing specialists at Valley Center Hearing can test your hearing and help you find the hearing devices or treatments you are looking for. Get in touch to schedule an appointment today.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when actual external noise is present. Some people perceive this “false” noise in their head, but most would describe it as a distinctly audio-based sensation. Regardless of how people experience tinnitus, it is not a psychological or psychiatric condition. 

Tinnitus can be heard in one ear or both ears and doesn’t sound the same to everyone, ranging from hissing to roaring to ringing to clicks and chirps.

Tinnitus is classified in one of two ways: as objective and subjective. Most tinnitus is considered to be subjective, or only audible to the person with tinnitus. However, in some cases, a doctor or hearing specialist using a stethoscope can actually hear the ringing or noise in your ears, too. This type of tinnitus is referred to as objective and is oftentimes treatable once the cause of the noise can be determined.

One thing, however, is certain above all others. Tinnitus is not a disease, an illness, or even a condition itself, but rather it is a symptom of something else in every single case. 

What Causes Tinnitus?

We would like to start with a small disclaimer here that this is not a comprehensive list of all of the things that can cause tinnitus, just a list of some of the most common causes, or causes that, although less common, are likely to cause it.

Common Causes

  • Age-related hearing loss is one of the more common causes in people around or over the age of 60.
  • Earwax blockages that harden or become too large can create pressure in the ear that results in tinnitus. 
  • Ear bone changes known as otosclerosis can cause hearing loss and tinnitus and tends to be hereditary.
  • Loud noises like those from concerts, firearms, heavy machinery, and even headphones played loud enough can cause both short-term tinnitus and a more permanent form.

Less Common Causes

  • TMJ can cause tension in the upper jaw near the ear that can result in tinnitus.
  • Head and/or neck injury that results in nerve damage can cause tinnitus, oftentimes in only a single ear.
  • Muscle spasms caused by neurological disorders, or seemingly for no reason at all, can cause intervals of tinnitus that are often accompanied by a feeling of having a plugged ear.
  • Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder caused by fluid pressure that can cause tinnitus and vertigo.
  • Acoustic neuroma is a type of benign tumor that impacts the cranial nerve and can cause balance and hearing issues, including tinnitus. 
  • Eustachian tube dysfunctions cause an over-opening of the ear tube connecting to the throat and can result in a full feeling ear and/or tinnitus.
  • Blood vessel disorders account for even fewer cases of tinnitus, but irregular blood flow, high blood pressure, and misformed capillaries (AVM) can all result in tinnitus.

Medications That Can Cause/Worsen Tinnitus

  • Aspirin taken in large or regular dosages.
  • Antibiotics of many different kinds, including erythromycin and neomycin.
  • Cancer medications including methotrexate. 
  • Water pills and diuretics. 
  • Quinine medications being sued for treating malaria or other medical conditions. 
  • Some anti-depressants also tend to make existing tinnitus worse.

What Are The Symptoms Of Tinnitus?

As stated earlier, tinnitus does not always sound or feel the same for everyone who experiences it. However, there is a highly common set of sounds that are perceived, despite not actually existing except in the rare cases of objective tinnitus mentioned above. The following sounds are the most commonly reported ones:

  • Ringing
  • Whistling
  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Humming
  • And roaring

The volume and pitch of these sounds can also vary greatly, being barely perceptible, but ever-present for some, and for others, the sounds may come and go, but be so loud that they interrupt a persons’ ability to perform routine tasks and focus.

What Are My Treatment Options For Tinnitus?

There are some treatments including medications and steroids that can improve or eliminate some cases of tinnitus, however, the potential treatments can vary in nature as much as the causes. For this reason, it’s always important to consult a hearing specialist or your doctor if you are struggling with tinnitus.

Take The First Step Towards Better Hearing At Valley Hearing Center

The first step to finding a possible solution is meeting with a hearing specialist for a hearing test and consultation. From there, the team at Valley Hearing Center can discuss treatment options with you. Schedule your appointment today.

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This post was written by Cassidy

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