Difficulty concentrating while you work, struggling to hear conversations, and difficulty getting to sleep are among the destructive consequences of tinnitus – the ringing, buzzing, hissing, or whistling noise you hear.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, about 50 million Americans struggle with some type of tinnitus annually. For approximately 20 million, the ringing in their ears is an irritating, ongoing condition, but about 2 million of them experience a level of tinnitus that is debilitating.
By helping individuals in East Tennessee better understand tinnitus and how our team of experts can help manage it, I hope to provide some assurance and relief to those struggling with the ringing in their ears.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus sounds do not come from any exterior source but originate inside your head. Many people describe tinnitus as a continuous or pulsating ringing noise, while others describe it as buzzing, humming, whooshing, clicking, whistling, or hissing.
Rather than being classified as a disorder with a specific cause, tinnitus is classified as a symptom of another condition. It is often an early warning sign of hearing loss in individuals over 54 years of age.
However, acute and chronic tinnitus shows up in individuals of any age and is often connected to exposure to an extreme noise event or ongoing exposure to loud noise.
Severe chronic cases of tinnitus tend to produce insomnia, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, anxiety, stress, strained relationships, and depression.
What Causes Tinnitus?
In most cases, individuals experiencing tinnitus struggle with subjective tinnitus (only they can hear it). A large percentage of them also have some type of damage to the hair cells in the inner ears and an associated hearing loss.
Among the possible causes of tinnitus is noise-induced damage that occurs in an industrial work environment, military service, or recreational activities that expose them to ongoing loud noise.
Other causes typically include a growth, inflammation, or earwax obstructing the ear canal and the use of more than 200 different ototoxic drugs.
In the cases of about 1% of individuals with tinnitus, a hearing care provider can also hear the sound through a stethoscope. This form of tinnitus is known as objective tinnitus and can be a symptom of various cardiovascular disorders, kidney disease, or head trauma.
Good News! Your Tinnitus Is Manageable
There are plenty of scams that promise to cure tinnitus, adding to the frustration of those who desire relief for their condition.
Although there is no identifiable cause and definitive cure, there are proven techniques and technologies available to manage tinnitus and limit the effect it has on your quality of life.
Tinnitus management begins with a professional assessment, which can help rule out any underlying medical conditions, such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), ototoxic medications, or other possible contributors to the condition.
Our evaluation will also help to identify the severity of your tinnitus to customize a tinnitus management plan that fits your unique needs.
Treatment options may include suggested changes to the medications you are taking, lifestyle changes (smoking, drinking, drug abuse, etc.), hearing aids (if you are also experiencing a hearing loss), external speaker sound masking or white noise masking, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), and/or any combination of the various forms of management available.
Take Control Of Your Tinnitus
There is no need to continue living with the debilitating effects tinnitus has on your lifestyle and quality of life.
My team of tinnitus experts at ENT Consultants of East Tennessee and I have ample experience and expertise in helping thousands to gain control over their tinnitus.