Information on tinnitus
What is tinnitus?
An estimated 25 million Americans have already experienced noise or ringing in the ears, or Tinnitus, in the past years. Common triggers include acute hearing loss, excessive noise, impaired blood circulation, stress, or misalignment of the cervical spine or jaw joint.
Tinnitus can occur in one ear (left or right) or both. The noises originate in the head and ear canal rather than outside the body. There are about 200 health disorders that could cause tinnitus sounds. One of the most frequent reasons for ear ringing is hearing loss. The damage could be caused by age related factors, noise factors or both. Speaking with a hear.com expert can help you understand if you have hearing loss that may have gone unnoticed.
The sounds experienced by people vary in volume, intensity and type. Some noises sound like high-pitched ringing while others sound like an airplane engine. Other types of noises are similar to the sounds of wind blowing, a rainstorm, or a tea kettle whistling. People experience intermittent or constant sounds. Whatever type of sound experienced, the noise disrupts a person’s life. A person may never have relief from constant ear noise.
About forty percent of the population will experience unpleasant ear ringing at some point in their lifetime. Ten to twenty percent will experience chronic tinnitus (a duration of over three months). Symptoms most commonly occur in people over the age of 40. However, people of all ages are susceptible to some form of disruptive and persistent ear ringing.
Carefully read the information below so that you can identify the symptoms, causes, and available treatments. Please call hear.com to speak with an expert about your questions. We will explain tinnitus in further depth, discuss your symptoms, and, if you like, set an appointment for you with a hearing specialist. Call us today!
If tinnitus is present for more than three days, one should go to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. To make a diagnosis the doctor usually begins by asking key questions to assess the patient’s condition and discover possible causes. The doctor will then examine the ear canal and the eardrum by means of an otoscope (basically a magnifying glass, mirror and a light) to check for damage to the ear. In many cases a hearing test is carried out to understand related and causal factors. The ENT doctor also conducts a series of other medical tests to provide a firm diagnosis.
- Examine the throat, nose and ears
- Subjective hearing test
- Analyze the noise in the ear; test the noise emission of the inner ear (otoacoustic emissions)
- Test for any balance disorders
- Objective hearing test (auditory brainstem response)
Methods to diagnose tinnitus:
- Blood analysis
- MRT of the skull (magnetic resonance tomography)
- CT of the skull (computer tomography)
- Examine the neck vertebrae and the jaw
Tinnitus and hearing aids
More than fifty percent of tinnitus sufferers also have a loss of hearing. Using a hearing aid can significantly increase the quality of life and health for those with hearing loss and ear ringing. Hearing aids compensate for the loss, enabling people to hear external sounds again and retraining the brain to hear sounds.
When hearing loss occurs, the brain may lose its ability to process certain sounds and frequencies. Ear ringing may occur as the brain changes in response to hearing loss. Therefore, as hearing aids help restore the brain’s ability to process certain sounds and frequencies, ear ringing may be reduced or alleviated altogether. For more information about how hearing aids provide relief for ear ringing, contact a hear.com expert at .
hear.com partners with hearing specialists throughout the country to conduct hearing tests and determine which hearing aids are best for each client. The Partner Provider will determine if you are a candidate for the combination hearing aid and tinnitus noiser. More and more people treated for ear noise choose to use a hearing aid with an integrated tinnitus noiser. This addition works on the principle of distraction, substituting negative noises with positive ones. The added technology in the hearing aid generates pleasant noises, which the user can select accordingly. The hearing aid-noiser combination is not known as a tinnitus cure, but as an ear ringing management instrument.
Currently, wearing hearing aids for tinnitus is the best solution. Many people with hearing loss find effective relief with these kinds of sound-increasing devices. In fact, a survey conducted in 2007 found that about 60% of people with tinnitus felt better with hearing aids. Moreover, 22% felt the relief was significant.
An effective reprogramming of the brain is achieved by so-called noise generators, positioned either behind both ears or worn in the ear.
Forms of tinnitus
Acute and chronic tinnitus
Acute tinnitus occurs when an unpleasant ear noise suddenly appears and remains for up to three months. In the case of chronic ear ringing, the noises remain longer than the three months and may remain perceptible in the long term. Acute ear ringing is usually healed spontaneously or the patient recovers from the symptoms. The longer the ear noise remains, however, the higher the possibility of chronic illness.
Subjective tinnitus refers to an ear noise that can only be heard by that person. Most tinnitus cases are subjective. Subjective tinnitus is caused by a mistake in processing at the points of sound transmission and sound perception. There can be a dysfunction in the area of the middle ear right down to the cortex. For instance, ear noises occur through insufficient absorption of high sound pressure by the muscle in the middle ear.
There are a number of possible causes of subjective ear ringing. Often ear noises become audible when a foreign substance enters or during a middle ear infection. A number of illnesses or stressors can trigger subjective tinnitus. Sudden deafness or hearing loss is generally accepted as a cause of ear ringing.
In summary: subjective tinnitus at a glance
- Foreign substances in the auditory canal (e.g. a build up of ear wax)
- An ear infection (otitis media or externa)
- Viral and bacterial infections (e.g. borreliosis)
- Middle ear diseases disturbing sound transmission e.g. otosclerosis
- Noise trauma (acute or chronic)
- Sudden deafness
- Diving accidents
- Autoimmune disease of the inner ear
- Ototoxic substances
- A tumor on the hearing nerves (acoustic neurinoma)
- Difficulty hearing (hypoacusis)
- Problems with the neck vertebrae or in the teeth and jaw area trigger or increase the symptoms
The causes of tinnitus are many. But there is good news! The risk of occurrence can be reduced and there are preventative measures to take to avoid this illness. Fundamentally one must avoid the danger of damaging the ear through loud noises. Wear enough protection for your hearing against loud noises. Furthermore, one should reduce stress as much as possible. To this end, manage your time and allow for periods of relaxation and exercise. Recognize stress in your life, find healthy ways to cope with stress, have a support network, and eat balanced and healthy meals. These choices can lead to more energy and a more efficient everyday life. One should most certainly go to an ENT specialist with acute ear noise for a short-term therapy – usually through the use of medicaments – to avoid long-term problems.
hear.com is your expert in hearing aids. We have a nation-wide network of hearing aid providers, so we are certain to have a partner in your area! Your satisfaction is our greatest motivation. We can provide you with information on tinnitus as well as other diseases such as Meniere’s disease and hypoacusis. We also introduce you to top hearing aid manufacturers and their products.