Conditions Related To Tinnitus
Tinnitus can interfere with a persons sleep and mental health, and so the list of tinnitus-associated conditions is quite long. There are also some closely related conditions that stem from damage to or diseases of the ear.
These related conditions include:
For almost 50 years, this nonprofit has provided resources and educational information for people who have tinnitus. Its also a major fundraiser and donor to tinnitus research, and it advocates for greater awareness of the condition through public and science outreach campaigns.
Collette Ramsey Baker lived with substantial hearing loss until age 35, when an operation gave her back the world of sound. In gratitude, and in an effort to help others, in 1958 Baker founded what was then called the Deafness Research Foundation. For the past 60 years, this nonprofit has supported numerous breakthrough research efforts while helping to inform the public about tinnitus and other hearing-related conditions.
A branch of the National Institutes of Health, the NIDCD is the countrys leading authority on the science of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. It oversees and funds major research efforts, and helps guide public policy related to hearing conditions, including tinnitus. It also provides a wealth of up-to-date information on tinnitus.
Medical Definition Of Ear Ringing
- Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Reviewed on 3/29/2021
Ear ringing: Together with other abnormal ear noises, ear ringing is medically called tinnitus. It is a symptom of a problem, not a disease.
Tinnitus may be due to many causes including ear infection, fluid in the ears, Ménière’s syndrome, medications such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , aging, and ear trauma . In rare situations, tinnitus may reflect an aneurysm or an acoustic neuroma .
Woodwind players are more likely to experience tinnitus than other orchestral players, probably because they usually sit just in front of the brass.
If tinnitus persists a hearing test should be done. Sometimes, measures can be taken to lessen the intensity of tinnitus or to mask it.
Research And Statistics: How Many People Have Tinnitus
While estimates vary, many suggest that around one in six Americans occasionally have bouts of tinnitus. When kids are included in estimates, more than 45 million people in the United States are thought to experience the condition now and then.
Between 6 and 9 percent of Americans say they experience tinnitus frequently or all the time. Tinnitus is slightly more common among men than among women, and a persons risk of tinnitus is greatest between ages 60 and 69.
While theres no cure for tinnitus, researchers are actively exploring ways to lessen the ringing and get rid of it entirely. Zitelli says the research being done centers on nailing down whats going on in the ear and the brain to generate the tinnitus.
Some of the newer technologies are getting closer to it, Frank says. One of these is a treatment technology called Desyncra, which focuses on retraining the way the brain interprets the information it receives from the ear. At home, a person wears special headphones and listens to therapeutic tones for a certain amount of time each day.
The theory is that by listening to this therapy, youre retraining the nerves to make a different pattern with their impulses so youre not hearing the tinnitus anymore, Frank says. Usually, its a 36-week treatment period that involves wearing the retraining device for four to six hours per day, Frank says.
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Hearing Aids Can Do Double Duty
Hearing aids may be the answer to tinnitus for people who have hearing loss.
By using hearing aids, you not only help reduce the awareness of the tinnitus, but you also improve your ability to hear as well, says Dr. Sandridge.
Some hearing aids have a built-in sound generator that produces ocean wave sounds or white or pink noise. These sounds provide relief by decreasing your awareness of the tinnitus by having your brain pay attention to the other neutral, non-threatening sounds. This promotes a process called habituation , which eventually will allow you to be aware of your tinnitus only when you actively listen for it.
In this case, the tinnitus is not gone, but you no longer pay attention to it unless you focus on it, she says. Our goal is to get you to the point where youre basically tuning the tinnitus out.
All in all, dont just wait and hope your tinnitus will go away. Talk to your primary care physician and audiologist if you notice ringing in your ears or other problems with your hearing. They can help you pinpoint your problem and help you find the relief you need.
Hypnotherapy And Cognitive Behaviour Therapy For Tinnitus
Hypnotherapy can indirectly help by aiding relaxation. Cognitive behaviour therapy, which is offered by clinical psychologists and is the basis of the Keys program, can help you to:
- change the way you think about tinnitus
- learn ways to focus your attention away from your tinnitus
- control the stress associated with tinnitus.
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Can Tinnitus Be Cured
There is no ”cure” for tinnitus. Often the symptoms are transient and related to an episode of sound exposure, infection, or eardrum irritation and will go away on their own. Some people have known triggers of their tinnitus such as caffeine, alcohol, dairy, or chewing gum. Avoidance of things that may reproduce tinnitus such as avoiding loud music or noises, keeping blood pressure under control, and decreasing salt intake may help.Some lifestyle changes can also help with the symptoms of tinnitus such as getting regular exercise, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, and using a white noise machine at night .
Is It Menieres Disease
Menieres disease isnt directly connected to tinnitus, but people with Menieres often experience it, at least temporarily. Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disease that typically only affects one ear. This disease can cause hearing loss, pressure or pain in the ear, severe cases of dizziness or vertigo and a ringing or roaring tinnitus. While Menieres isnt fully understood, it appears that several relief options for tinnitus can also help with this disease. Patients are often advised to reduce stress and lower their consumption of caffeine and sodium.
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Can Tinnitus Sound Like Clicking
In most cases, no. Most tinnitus sounds like a ringing, hissing or buzzing sound. If you do hear a persistent clicking sound, it’s worth investigating to find out where it is coming from.
The seismic effect: For some people, the jarring motion of brisk walking can produce what is called a seismic effect that causes movement in the small bones or contractions in the muscles of the middle ear space. You can experiment to find out if this is the cause by walking slowly and smoothly to see if the clicking is present. Then, try walking quickly and with a lot of motion to see if you hear the clicking. You can also test for the seismic effect by moving your head up and down quickly.
If you do detect the seismic effect, it is likely nothing that indicates a serious medical condition. However, if it is a constant annoyance, discuss it with your hearing care professional.
Strategies For Managing Tinnitus
The more attention you pay to your tinnitus, the harder it is to become used to it. Try to:
- overcome your fears of tinnitus
- change your perception of it from a sound to be feared to a benign sound that cannot harm you
- keep busy focus on enjoyable and stimulating activities
- normalise your life as much as possible do not let your tinnitus stop you doing the things you enjoy
- find a way to become habituated to it. The 4 Keys Program explains this process. A DVD is available to guide you through the steps to achieve habituation.
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Todays Medical Term Is Tinnitus
Tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in the ear, isnt actually a disease. It is a condition in which a sufferer hears a ringing noise in the ear that isnt actually a sound that is coming from somewhere outside the body. It can be caused by exposure to a very loud noise but unfortunately, it often starts without any outside stimulus.
It might be tempting to ask, If my ear is ringing, why cant I just answer it? But its not that simple. A variety of medications can work to reduce or eliminate tinnitus. Some people report that the condition gets better if they stop drinking coffee or avoid certain foods. But tinnitus is an ornery condition to get and some people suffer from it for years with no relief. The best way to beat it is to prevent it by avoiding exposure to loud sounds, but even that approach is not completely reliable.
The American Tinnitus Association advocates for people who have Tinnitus and supports research to find a cure. If you or someone you know suffers from the problem, this organization can refer you to a physician in your area who is trained to help.
What Is True About Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be the first sign of hearing loss. Damage to the auditory nerve as we age sometimes manifests itself as a ringing or buzzing noise in the ear. Tinnitus can also have a rhythm in time with your heartbeat, called pulsatile tinnitus. This can be caused by a problem with blood flow from the head or neck, and you should check with your doctor if you notice this symptom.In some cases, tinnitus can develop with no known cause.
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Teens Loud Music And Possible Future Hearing Problems
One study found that out of 170 teenagers, over half had experienced tinnitus in the previous year. Research has proposed that potentially risky leisure habits, such as listening to loud music on personal devices, could trigger tinnitus.
However, the investigators found that those who were prone to tinnitus tended to keep their music volume down, suggesting they may already have a hidden susceptibility to hearing loss in the future.
They propose monitoring for tinnitus and a low tolerance for loud noise from an early age, as these could be early signs of future hearing loss.
Tinnitus is a common problem in the general population, especially among those with certain risk factors.
Work With Your Audiologist To Find Relief
Before you pursue any non-medical options for tinnitus management, you need to see a doctor to rule out any underlying problem requiring medical or surgical intervention, says Dr. Sandridge. The next step is to have a hearing test done by an audiologist to determine if hearing loss could be the cause as well as to determine if you can benefit from sound therapy.
Unfortunately, at this point, there is no FDA-approved medication to treat tinnitus. The majority of management options are non-medical and should be directed by your audiologist who may work with other specialty professionals such as a dentist, a physical therapist or a psychologist to find the best treatment option for you.
These may include different types of counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy , mindfulness therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy or sound therapy such as fans, sounds apps on your smartphones, hearing aids or sound generators.
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Getting Help For Tinnitus
If you have tinnitus, you might be feeling frustrated and helpless, but there is hope.
The first step is to consult a hearing care professional for a thorough check of your auditory system. Your doctor may recommend you see an audiologist who specializes in diagnosing and managing tinnitus. Visit our directory of hearing care providers to find a hearing clinic that can perform tinnitus testing near you. Please note that not all hearing clinics treat tinnitus, so you may need to browse several clinic pages to find the right provider.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
- Ear noises start after a head injury.
- The noises occur with other unexplained symptoms, like dizziness, feeling off balance, nausea, or vomiting.
- You have unexplained ear noises that bother you even after you try self-help measures.
- The noise is only in one ear and it continues for several weeks or longer.
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Head Injuries And Brain Diseases
A head injury, such as whiplash or concussion, can cause damage to the delicate inner ear structure, which may lead to tinnitus. Also, neurologic diseases like multiple sclerosis can result in tinnitus, and acoustic tumors on the auditory or vestibular nerve can create tinnitus by pressing on the neural connections. In this case, a neurologist would be the primary physician to help you.
Could You Have Tinnitus
How do you know if you have it? Your doctor will make the final call, but you can ask yourself these questions.
Do you hear a noise that people around you don’t hear? When you have tinnitus, you’re the only one who notices the ringing, buzzing, or other noise. Other people don’t.
Do you take medication? More than 200 drugs can cause tinnitus, especially when you start or stop taking them. These include pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen, as well as certain antibiotics, diuretics, aspirin, and chemotherapy medicines.
The form that tinnitus takes can vary, depending on the drug and its dose. Don’t stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.
Are you around loud sounds? Lots of blaring noises where you live or work can cause hearing loss that triggers tinnitus. Those sounds could include roaring machines, lawn equipment, concerts, and sporting events.
Tinnitus can build up over the years or stem from a single loud event, like an engine backfire. Stay away from loud noises if you can. If you can’t, wear ear protection. And turn that music down.
Do you have a cold or ear infection? Congestion, along with ear and sinus infections, can cause pressure to build up in your inner ear. The same thing can happen if you have too much ear wax. That pressure can cause tinnitus.
Treating the cause should ease your symptoms. But long-term blockage sometimes leads to having the hearing condition permanently.
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Medications That Cause Tinnitus
The most common drugs known to cause tinnitus are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , diuretics, certain antibiotics and cancer drugs, and the malaria drug quinine. But many others can cause tinnitus, too. If you experience tinnitus after starting any new medication, or changing a dosage, discuss it right away with your pharmacist or physician to determine if you should stop, reduce, or change the medications you are currently taking.
Did you know? One of the most common drugs known to cause tinnitus is aspirin, especially when taken in high doses.
What Is The Treatment For Ringing In The Ears
There is no cure for ringing in the ears , but treatments can help. Treatment varies based on the underlying cause, the severity of the condition, the patients overall health, and patient preferences.
Treatment for ringing in the ears includes:
- Treatment for hearing loss
- Surgery to the outer or middle ear
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How Is Ringing In The Ears Diagnosed
Ringing in the ears is diagnosed with a patient history and a physical exam of the ear canal to check for earwax or other blockages in the ear canal.
Tests used to diagnose the underlying cause of ringing in the ears include:
- Hearing tests, including audiogram or auditory brainstem response
- Blood pressure measurements
- Magnetic resonance imaging scan
- Computed tomography scan
Medical Causes Of Tinnitus
Anemia, allergies, impacted earwax, diabetes and an underactive thyroid gland are all common medical conditions that can be associated with tinnitus and sometimes hearing loss.
Less often, other underlying medical conditions or injuries can trigger tinnitus. If you have tinnitus, start your treatment path by seeking out a hearing healthcare professional who specializes in tinnitus diagnostics so they can help identify the underlying cause. If the common causes for tinnitus are ruled out, the practitioner will refer you to another specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
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How To Talk With Your Doctor About Tinnitus
Learning about tinnitus can help you manage it. Ask your doctor these questions so you better understand your condition.
- Can you tell what’s causing my tinnitus?
- Will it go away on its own?
- Can other people hear the noise in my ears?
- Will tinnitus damage my hearing?
- Does having tinnitus mean I have hearing loss?
You may want to ask your doctor these questions to learn about your treatment options:
- What are the treatments for tinnitus?
- Are there any risks or side effects from the treatment?
- What can I do on my own to manage tinnitus?
- How can I stop tinnitus from getting worse?