Tinnitus is described as the subjective perception of sound when no external sound is present. Many patients report sounds consistent with ringing in the ears, however, tinnitus can be described as any sound. Some examples include but are not limited to; clicking, humming, roaring, buzzing, hissing, and whooshing.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates approximately 50 million Americans experience tinnitus. Across the affected tinnitus population, there is a broad spectrum of annoyance. Patients report anywhere from little to no annoyance to completely debilitating tinnitus. Approximately half of the reported cases of tinnitus result in some level of burden.
The cause of tinnitus is unknown; however, extensive research supports several different theories. Hearing loss is among the most common comorbidity reported with tinnitus. Researchers believe tinnitus may be the result of the brain compensating for hearing loss at a neurological level. Other ear related theories include sinus pressure, occlusion of cerumen (wax) in the ear canal, exposure to loud sounds, and exposure to ototoxic medications. In addition, head and neck injury, temporomandibular joint disorder, and traumatic brain injury may be possible sources of tinnitus.
Although there is no cure for tinnitus there are several treatment options. Treatment options include hearing aids, sound therapy, masking devices, cognitive behavior therapy, and further dietary modifications. Following a thorough tinnitus evaluation, an audiologist will tailor a treatment option to help with the management of tinnitus. Several patients experience relief from tinnitus with the help of a trained professional such as an audiologist.
It is important to have a full diagnostic work up to evaluate tinnitus and other possible medical conditions contributing to tinnitus. Although there is no cure, there are several treatment options that can improve quality of life and provide relief to those burdened with tinnitus. If you are one of the 50 million Americans bothered by tinnitus, call Denison Hearing to schedule a tinnitus evaluation with an audiologist. Denison Hearing offers several options for tinnitus relief including risk-free trials of bluetooth hearing aids with integrated tinnitus programs.