Could Tinnitus be Causing that Ringing in Your Ears?
Have you ever experienced a constant ringing in your ears that you can't pinpoint the cause? It might be tinnitus ('tin-ni-tus) - the sensation of hearing a sound when no external sound is present. In most cases, tinnitus can be managed, but for some, it's a chronic condition that can affect sleep and everyday function. Fortunately, there are options to reduce its effects.
About 1 in 5 people experience the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. It's called tinnitus. Dr. Gayla Poling is the director of Diagnostic Audiology at Mayo Clinic. She says tinnitus can be perceived a myriad of ways: ringing, buzzing, whistling, a cracking, a chirping. But why?
"Ninety percent of those with tinnitus have hearing loss. So that's usually where we start as a source or a reason for the tinnitus."
Hearing loss can be age-related, come from a one-time exposure, or exposure to loud sounds over a lifetime. Poling says the tiny hairs in our inner ear may play a role.
"Those little hair cells in our inner ear are really delicate structures. That's what is actually damaged with noise exposure, or wear and tear on your ears across your life span. So those damaged hair cells, might be the reason or part of the cause for tinnitus for some."
Poling says there's no scientifically proven cure for tinnitus, but there are treatment and management options.
"That can be something as simple as getting a hearing aid to treating the hearing loss. And once you treat that, then you find that the tinnitus and the perception of that tinnitus is reduced."
Other options include using a sound generator or a fan at night. And then there are more advanced treatments.
"There's something called "tinnitus retraining therapy." There are more ear-level masking devices where you can hear sounds throughout the day, too, that are more distracting."
If ringing in your ears bothers you, start by seeing your health care provider for a hearing test.
Article originally appeared on Medical Xpress.
Please answer the question below to the best of your ability. After you choose your answer, the next question will appear. At the end of the survey, you will be provided with a score, and you may send this score to us so we may discuss any hearing loss issues you are having.
Are there situations in which you find it difficult to hear clearly?
Do you have to strain to understand conversations?
Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
Do you have trouble following a conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
Do you have trouble hearing conversations in a noisy background such as a restaurant or a group gathering?
Do you have dizziness, pain, or ringing in your ears?
Do family members or coworkers remark about you missing what has been said?
Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
Do you find it hard to hear someone when they talk in a soft voice or whisper?
Do you find understanding women and children particularly challenging?
You received a score of