What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the ability to hear sounds generated by the auditory (hearing) system, in the absence of sound present.
For many, it is a high pitched ringing in one or both ears/ it may be a buzzing, popping, hissing or roaring noise. It may be constant or intermittent.
The problem is the distress created – not the type of sound.
What causes tinnitus?
Only when a specific factor is linked to the appearance or disappearance of the tinnitus can a cause be stated with certainty. Head injuries, large doses of certain medications, anemia, hypertension, noise exposure, stress, impacted ear wax and certain types of tumors are examples of conditions that might cause tinnitus.
Is tinnitus a common problem?
Yes. Almost everyone at one time or another has experienced brief periods of mild ringing or other sounds in the ear. Some people have more annoying and constant types of tinnitus. As many as 30 million Americans consider their tinnitus a problem, with a million or more finding that their tinnitus prevents them from leading a normal life.
Does having tinnitus mean I have a hearing loss?
Not necessarily. Although tinnitus is a symptom experienced by many people with hearing loss, not everyone with tinnitus has a hearing loss.
Why is my tinnitus worse at night?
During the day, the distraction of the activities and the surrounding sounds cause the tinnitus to be less obvious. When your surroundings are quiet, your tinnitus may seem louder and more constant. Fatigue may also make your tinnitus worse.
What is the treatment for tinnitus?
The most effective treatment is to eliminate the underlying cause. Unfortunately, the cause may not be identified so the tinnitus itself may need to be treated. Tinnitus treatment is multifaceted and can include medications, vitamin therapy, dietary changes, exercises, biofeedback, masking and/or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
What should I do about my tinnitus?
The first step is to identify the underlying cause for tinnitus. You should have a medical examination with attention given to checking for factors sometimes associated with tinnitus such as blood pressure, kidney function, medications, diet and allergies.
A complete audiological evaluation should be performed by an audiologist to assess the hearing system and its relationship to the tinnitus.