What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term for the perception of sound when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as "ringing in the ears," although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. Its’ perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud.
How Many People Have Tininitus?
50 million Americans experience tinnitus. Of these, about 12 million have tinnitus which is severe enough to seek medical attention. Of those, about two million patients are so seriously debilitated by their tinnitus, they cannot function normally on a day-to-day basis.
What Causes Tinnitus?
The exact cause (or causes) of tinnitus is not known in every case. There are, however, several likely factors which may cause tinnitus or make existing tinnitus worse: noise-induced hearing loss, wax build-up in the ear canal, certain medications, ear or sinus infections, age-related hearing loss, ear diseases and disorders, jaw misalignment, cardiovascular disease, certain types of tumors, thyroid disorders, head and neck trauma and many others. Of these factors, exposure to loud noises and hearing loss are the most common causes of tinnitus. I strongly recommend that an audiologist and a physician should evaluate all tinnitus patients.
Tinnitus Management and Treatment
There are many options for people who experience tinnitus. Some wear hearing aids to help cover up their tinnitus, some wear tinnitus maskers. Additionally, there are combined tinnitus maskers and hearing aids – all in one unit! Some patients require counseling to help them develop effective management strategies to manage their tinnitus. If you’ve been told "learn to live with it," there are many additional options to explore. Your audiologist is an excellent resource for issues and answers related to tinnitus. Additionally, I recommend all people with tinnitus visit the American Tinnitus Association website for more information, ideas and strategies concerning tinnitus.