According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in the ears, otherwise known as Tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the medical term that refers to the perception of sound in one or both ears when no sound is present in the environment. It is often described as ringing in the ears, but that’s not the only sound that qualifies. It can also present as buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, or a noise like crickets, among other things. A type known as pulsatile tinnitus is rhythmic, often keeping time with the person’s heartbeat.
While there is no proven cure for tinnitus, understanding the symptoms, causes, and related illnesses, can help ease, manage, or block out the ringing in the ears sensation.
As previously stated, the most common symptom is ringing in the ears. It can range from a low pitch to a high pitch and may be soft or loud at times. Tinnitus can remain constant or come and go intermittently. In severe cases, the ringing in the ears is loud enough to interfere with work or daily activity, whereas those with mild tinnitus can experience soft ringing that is no more than a minor annoyance.
With so many people suffering from tinnitus, it’s important to know what causes the ringing sensation. While the underlying cause of many cases of tinnitus is never discovered, there are some common causes which are known to aggravate the condition:
- Age: Around the age of 60, hearing sensitivity can start getting worse. Hearing loss associated with natural aging is called presbycusis and it can be accompanied by tinnitus.
- Loud noise exposure: Being exposed to occupational loud noise on a regular basis from heavy equipment is a common cause of tinnitus. However, even if you don’t work in a noisy environment, you can still suffer the effects of noise exposure by listening to loud music through headphones, attending concerts, and engaging in noisy hobbies.
- Unhealthy habits: Researchers are not entirely certain why, but drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating certain foods, and consuming carbonated beverages, can play a role in tinnitus.
- Common ailments: Having anemia, allergies, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, diabetes, and an underactive thyroid gland, are all medical conditions that can lead to tinnitus.
People with tinnitus often view their suffering as a common part of everyday life that they learn to cope with. Many people find improving their overall health provides some comfort from tinnitus symptoms. Such as controlling their blood pressure, reducing stress, and decreasing caffeine consumption.
Although there’s no proven cure for tinnitus, there are treatments that help make it easier to ignore. Hearing technology that is properly fitted by a Doctor of Audiology can produce soothing noises to shift or mask your focus away from the tinnitus.
Bluegrass Hearing Clinic patient Becky Mitchell states, “After mastoid surgery on my left ear, my hearing was muffled along with experiencing tinnitus. I also had eustachian tube problems which caused me to hear my heart beat constantly throughout the day while at work. I made an appointment with the Doctors at Bluegrass Hearing Clinic and I am so glad I did. Their doctors and staff were amazing. Since getting my hearing technology, I don’t notice my heart beat any more in my left ear, nor the tinnitus. I have an app on my phone that I can control the volume and even stream music through my hearing aid. My hearing aid is so small, people don’t even know I have it on.”
If you have tinnitus, you might be feeling frustrated and helpless, but rest assure there is hope. The first step is consulting a Doctor of Audiology for an evaluation and then discussing treatment to help you regain your quality of life. If hearing loss or tinnitus does persist well past your other allergy symptoms, it is suggested to schedule an appointment with an Audiologist right away by calling Bluegrass Hearing at 859-809-9541. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to treat.