What Is Tinnitus?

Though the common misconception about tinnitus is that it’s a disease, tinnitus is actually a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual.

Many who suffer from tinnitus describe the annoying sound as ringing in the ear, but a whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing sound is also possible. For some, these sounds come and go. But most are not that lucky, and will experience symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

These phantom sounds may cause only a slight annoyance, or they may severely disrupt everyday life. The American Tinnitus Association estimates more than 50 million Americans suffer from at least occasional bouts of tinnitus.

 

What Causes Tinnitus?

There are a number of causes, with the most common being exposure to loud noise for a prolonged period of time. In this case, your hearing may be temporarily or permanently damaged, depending upon the severity of the sound.

We can’t always tell whether your temporary damage will become permanent, but tinnitus is usually representative of an inner-ear problem. Tinnitus research is ongoing, and the mechanisms that cause tinnitus in the brain and inner ear are being more closely studied. Some possible causes are:

Loud noises can be a cause of tinnitus
Exposure to loud noise
Some medications can be a cause of tinnitus
Certain medications
Diet can be a cause of tinnitus
Diet
Head Trauma can be a cause of tinnitus
Head trauma


Stress can be a cause of tinnitus
Stress
Blockage can be a cause of tinnitus
Eardrum blockage
Jaw joint disorders can be a cause of tinnitus
Jaw joint disorders
Hearing Loss can be a cause of tinnitus
Hearing loss


 
In rare cases, tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel disorder, resulting in pulsatile tinnitus. This type of tinnitus may be caused by a head or neck tumor, a buildup of cholesterol in the circulatory system, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, or malformation of the capillaries surrounding the ear. The result is a tinnitus that sends out pulsing signals in conjunction with the flow of your heartbeat.

 

Is There a Cure?

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, BUT there is help. Our Tinnitus Solutions program works with you to identify potential causes for your specific symptoms, and ways to reduce the impact of tinnitus on your daily life. By working with our Audiologists, tinnitus sufferers find a customized treatment program that can provide ongoing relief from their symptoms.

 

What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus?

Because your tinnitus symptoms are personal and unique in nature, an in-depth evaluation will help us create a specialized treatment plan for you.

Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, our audiologists have the knowledge and experience to provide you with treatment methods that can help lessen the impact that tinnitus has on your life.

There are a number of treatment options, including:

  • AGX Hearing Technology
  • Sound Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Alternative Therapies
  • EMDR Therapy
  • Hyperbaric Therapy
  • Neurofeedback Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there medications for tinnitus?
Almost all 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 that might help lessen symptoms, including: limiting exposure to loud noises, lowering your blood pressure, ingesting less salt, and limiting exposure to alcohol.
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.
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.
Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?
No. Tinnitus is a symptom of any number of conditions, including hearing loss.
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.