Tinnitus: How to Manage The Ringing in Your Ears
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus (TIN-i-tus) is the perception of sound in the ears or head in the absence of external sound. It has been described in a variety of sound qualities (i.e. ringing, buzzing, hissing, clicking) and may fluctuate in volume or it may be steady and constant. A change in tinnitus may be triggered by factors such as stress, changes in emotional state, exposure to loud noise, ingestion of certain medications, or even changes in barometric pressure! Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of another underlying condition.
About 50 million Americans have some form of tinnitus yet only 22 million report emotional distress from this sound. For many people, tinnitus is easily ignored by redirecting their attention elsewhere and it has little to no impact on daily activities. However for others, tinnitus can have a direct impact on social, emotional, physical, and occupational well-being. For those suffering from tinnitus, it can cause disruption to normal daily functions, decreased concentration, depressed mood, lack of motivation, and overall feelings of helplessness or loss of control. Although there is no current cure for tinnitus, there are many treatment options. Through extensive counseling, sound enrichment, and brain retraining, you can learn to better manage your reaction and reduce the overall emotional impact of tinnitus!
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What Causes Tinnitus?
Underlying hearing loss is the primary cause of tinnitus.
However tinnitus has also been linked with a variety of other health conditions and environmental factors, including:
- Noise exposure
- Blockage in the ear canal
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Autoimmune disease
- Endocrine disease (i.e. diabetes)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
- High blood pressure
- Psychiatric disorders
- Anxiety and/or increased stress levels
What Should You Do About Tinnitus?
Patients with tinnitus or suspected ear-related issues are strongly encouraged to seek a medical consultation with their Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician to rule out medical involvement. Assuming there is no medical cause, these patients may seek relief through other evidence-based tinnitus therapies with the guidance of an audiologist.