Did you know that almost everyone experiences tinnitus from time to time? Or that it’s actually quite common? Or that it doesn’t mean you’re going crazy? Consider these facts about tinnitus before you start worrying.
Tinnitus is an abnormal noise in your head that can vary in loudness and sound frequency. It’s most commonly described as a ringing in your ears, but it can also sound like buzzing, hissing, whistling, crickets, or a car engine. While anyone can experience tinnitus, it’s more common in older adults.
Tinnitus is not related to hearing loss. Some people with severe hearing loss may experience tinnitus as a result. However, it’s not a common cause of hearing loss, so your audiologist can safely rule out tinnitus as a potential source of your hearing loss. Tinnitus is also unrelated to anxiety.
If you have tinnitus, it’s likely from exposure to loud noise. But don’t worry — that’s something you can fix.
So what is the cause of tinnitus? How can you treat it? And most importantly, should you be worried? Keep reading to learn more about this common condition and what you can do about it.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is an abnormal ringing, buzzing, hissing, or roaring in your ears. It can also sound like a high-pitched tone, a low-frequency hum, or a combination of all three. Tinnitus is common, affecting about 50 million people in the United States. It’s more common in people who have recently undergone damage to their ears, such as from loud noise or ear infections.
While most people are aware of the concept of tinnitus, many have no idea what causes it or how to treat it.
What Causes Tinnitus?
While the cause of tinnitus is unknown, there are many theories about how it develops. Theories include:
- Genetics – your chance of developing tinnitus is inherited
- Aging – with age, your auditory system becomes less efficient, causing you to hear noises that your ears don’t naturally detect
- Injuries – damage to your ears can lead to tinnitus, as well as exacerbate it if left untreated
- certain medications – certain medications, like antidepressants and some antibiotics, can change your brain’s electrical activity, causing tinnitus
- earwax – some people are very sensitive to certain sounds and noises, and even a little ear wax can cause them to hear ringing
- a heart or blood vessel condition – some people have a rare heart and blood vessel condition called tinnitus aurium, which causes them to hear tinnitus in their ears
- a hyperactive mind – while we don’t know for sure why some people experience tinnitus, there is some evidence that suggests that some people’s brains process sound differently, causing them to hear noises
Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can lead to tinnitus as well as cause depression and anxiety. Don’t hesitate to ask an audiologist about your hearing health. You may also visit NHHearingInstitute.com to learn more information about tinnitus and other hearing-related conditions.
Getting a hearing screening is the best way to rule out hearing loss as a cause of your tinnitus. If your hearing is healthy, but you still experience tinnitus, your audiologist can help you manage the condition and find treatment options that work best for you.
Tinnitus and Home Remedies
Sometimes people will try to treat tinnitus with over-the-counter medications or natural remedies. However, these treatments aren’t recommended for tinnitus because there is not enough evidence to support their use. Some of these treatments may also have side effects that make your tinnitus worse.
An audiologist can provide you with a list of safe and effective treatments for tinnitus. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a tinnitus clinic or explain other treatment options that you can try at home.
If you want to try a home remedy for tinnitus, it’s best to talk to your audiologist first. Some medications and medical conditions interact with sound, causing tinnitus. Your doctor can help you rule out these causes and treat the underlying issue.
Treatment for Tinnitus
Treatments for tinnitus vary depending on the severity of your condition and the cause. In many cases, tinnitus is caused by hearing loss and is easy to correct. However, in some cases, your tinnitus is caused by anxiety or depression, which can be difficult to treat.
Your audiologist will work with you to determine the best course of action to treat your tinnitus. They can provide you with information on how tinnitus affects people differently and how you can communicate with your doctor if you aren’t sure what you need.
Some causes of tinnitus are more difficult to correct than others. If the ringing in your ears is caused by a hearing loss, your audiologist can correct the issue and your tinnitus should resolve. But if you experience tinnitus due to illness, medications, or a condition like a hyperacusis, it will be harder to treat. Your audiologist can help you navigate these complexities.
If you’re experiencing tinnitus, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Tinnitus is common and can be managed with treatment. Your audiologist can help you understand the best ways to manage it. And most importantly, don’t give up hope. Tinnitus is treatable, and there are treatments that can help.