Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, or hissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or maybe all the time? Does the sound bother you? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a symptom that can be associated with many forms of hearing loss or other health issues. Approximately 25 million Americans have experienced tinnitus at some point in their lives. Some cases are so severe that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. People with severe cases may find it difficult to hear, work or even sleep.
What Causes Tinnitus?
- Hearing loss. Doctors and researchers have discovered that people with different kinds of hearing loss also have tinnitus.
- Loud noise. Too much exposure to loud noise can result in noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Medicine. There are over 200 medications that may possibly cause tinnitus. If you have tinnitus and you take medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your medicine could be involved.
- Other health problems. Allergies, tumors, problems in the heart and/or blood vessels, jaws and neck may be the cause.
What Should I Do If I Have Tinnitus?
The most important thing you can do is to see your physician or one of our otolaryngologists (an ear, nose, and throat doctor). They can determine if it is related to your blood pressure, kidney function, diet, tempromandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), ear wax or allergies. Our physicians can also determine whether your condition is related to any medications that you are taking. We also have audiologists on our staff who are trained to evaluate hearing loss and related disorders.
How Will Your Physicians and Audiologists Treat My Tinnitus?
Although there often is no cure, scientists and doctors have discovered several treatments that may give you some relief. Not every treatment works for everyone, so you may need to try several different ones to find the combination that helps you.
Treatments can include:
- Hearing Aids. Many people with tinnitus also have a hearing loss in one or both ears. Wearing a hearing aid makes it easier for some people to hear the sounds they need to hear by making them louder.
- Sound Generators. Sound generators are small electronic devices that use sound to make tinnitus less noticeable. Although sound generators do not eliminate the ringing, they do make the noise seem softer or less noticeable for some people. Sometimes, sound generators hide the noise so well that they can barely hear it. Some people also sleep better when they use maskers. Some types of sound generators used are listening to static at a low volume on the radio or using bedside sound generators (i.e. sound machines).
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). This treatment uses a combination of counseling and sound generators. Otolaryngologists and audiologists help you learn how to deal with your condition better. You may also use sound generators to make it less noticeable. After a while, some people learn how to avoid thinking about their tinnitus. It takes time for this treatment to work, but it can be very helpful. We are happy to provide you with more information on where you may investigate this option during your visit.
- Relaxing. Learning how to relax can be very helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress can make your condition seem worse and more severe. If you relax, you have a chance to rest and better deal with the noise.
- Counseling. People with constant noise in the ears may become depressed. Talking with a counselor or people in a support groups may be helpful. We offer a South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group in our practice. Please contact Mary-Ann Halladay at (856) 979-4740 or email Linda Beach for more information about meeting dates, times and locations.