Ringing in the ear, or tinnitus, is a widespread condition that affects an estimated 50 million Americans. Some people describe it as a hissing, roaring, whooshing or buzzing sound instead of ringing. It may be sporadic or constant, and is a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a disease itself. There are many factors that can cause tinnitus.
What Are the Causes of Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is categorized as being either pulsatile or nonpulsatile.
People who suffer from pulsatile tinnitus report hearing the sound of their own pulse. It is caused by abnormal blood flow within the arteries of the neck or inside the ear, and is fairly rare. Possible causes include:
- Fluid in the middle ear.
- Ear infections.
- High blood pressure.
- Head and neck tumors.
- Blocked arteries.
Nonpulsatile tinnitus – ringing in the ears not accompanied by any type of rhythm – is considerably more common. It can be caused by a variety of conditions including:
- Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss).
- Noise exposure.
- Impacted earwax.
- Otosclerosis (stiffening of the bones in the middle ear).
- Meniere’s disease.
- TMJ disorders.
- Ototoxic medications.
- Thyroid conditions.
- Head or neck trauma.
- Acoustic neuromas.
Tinnitus is also classified as being either subjective (heard only by the patient) or objective (ringing can be heard by an impartial observer, such as a doctor). Most cases of tinnitus are subjective in nature.
How Is Tinnitus Treated?
Tinnitus can’t be cured, but there are treatments that make it less of a distraction. The approach taken depends on the underlying condition responsible for the ringing in your ears. Sometimes, simple steps like removing built-up earwax or switching to a new medication can markedly decrease symptoms.
Others benefit from noise suppression therapy or masking techniques designed to cover up the ringing noise. White noise machines, fans, air conditioners and humidifiers are all popular, easy to use options.
Tinnitus retraining devices, which rely on patterned tones, are a newer technique that has proven beneficial to many patients.
Call Albany ENT & Allergy Services at (518) 701-2085 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Tinnitus can manifest as an acute symptom lasting just a few days, or a chronic or recurring symptom lasting weeks, months or years. It is often described as a ringing in the ears, but is also reported to sound like hissing, buzzing, roaring, sizzling, clicking or other noise. If you’re one of the five percent…Read More
There is no known cure for tinnitus unless its underlying cause can be identified and treated. In recent years, however, audiologists have developed some outstanding tinnitus treatment programs and methods to help patients with chronic tinnitus. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is one of our clinic’s highest recommended treatment plans. TRT centers around tinnitus counseling, which…Read More
There is no universal cure for tinnitus, but there are treatments that make it less of a distraction. Because tinnitus is a side effect of an underlying condition, identifying the problem may lead to a medical or surgical solution. The cure rates for pulsatile tinnitus are quite high once the problem has been identified. Unfortunately,…Read More