Tinnitus is a common condition that can cause ringing or other bothersome sounds, such as hissing, in one or both of your ears. The condition is usually caused by age-related hearing loss but other underlying conditions, such as an ear infection or ear canal blockage, may also cause tinnitus. Although there is no cure for the condition, there are a range of effective treatments that can help alleviate symptoms.
Tinnitus can be a troublesome and distressing condition that is often associated with ringing in the ears. It can also cause a range of other phantom noises thatare not caused by an external sound and cannot be heard by other people. These may affect one or both ears and can be present continually or may come and go.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Sometimes, no cause of tinnitus can be identified, but the condition is often associated with age-related hearing loss. Inside the cochlea (the inner ear), there are tiny, delicate hair cells that convert incoming sound vibrations into electrical signals that travel along the auditory nerve (the nerve from the ear to the brain), allowing the brain to interpret the signals as sound. The hairs can get damaged through age-related wear and tear or if you are regularly exposed to loud sounds, which can send unprovoked signals to the brain, causing tinnitus.
Tinnitus can also be caused or made worse by an underlying health condition, such as an ear injury, ear infection, ear canal blockage, head or neck injury, or a circulation problem. Other causes of tinnitus may include:
- Meniere’s disease
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Inner ear muscle spasms
- TMJ disorders
- Side effect of common medications, such as antibiotics, antidepressants, and aspirin
Symptoms of Tinnitus
Tinnitus can cause of range of phantom noises in one or both ears and may be present some or all the time. It is more common in older adults, but the condition can affect people of any age. In some cases, it can feel like the sounds are so loud that it can interfere with your day-to-day activities and your ability to concentrate or to hear other external sounds. The most common sounds experienced include:
- Dial tone
- Waves crashing
Treatment for Tinnitus
Tinnitus is usually diagnosed based on symptoms. To determine the best treatment for the condition, your doctor will first try to identify whether your tinnitus is caused by an underlying condition. They will assess your medical history and carry out a comprehensive medical examination of your ears, head, and throat. They may also carry out a range of tests, such as hearing, movement, and balance tests, lab tests, or imaging tests to try to establish the root cause of the condition.
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying health condition, your doctor will focus on treating that first to try to relieve symptoms. This may include removing a buildup of earwax, changes to medications, or treating a blood vessel condition. Hearing aids may be recommended to patients with both hearing loss and tinnitus to help make tinnitus symptoms less bothersome. If the root cause of tinnitus cannot be established, one of the following treatments may be recommended to alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
Noise suppression treatment can help provide relief if you have tinnitus. The aim of treatment is to reduce or mask the perceived ringing and make symptoms less noticeable.White-noise devices produce low-level white noise to help suppress tinnitus symptoms. They maycreate a static or environmental sound (such as ocean waves or falling rain) to make tinnitus less noticeable, which can be particularly effective at night. These devices can include in-ear solutions or standalone machines. Other devices, such as fans, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers, can also produce white noise, helping to make tinnitus less noticeable.
Certain medications can help to reduce the severity of tinnitus symptoms. These can include tricyclic antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, which may help provide some relief if you have severe tinnitus. Medications to treat an underlying condition may also be recommended to help alleviate tinnitus symptoms. All medications come with side effects, so you should always discuss the type of treatment that is best for you with your ENT physician before commencing treatment.
There are several types of talking therapies that can be effective for tinnitus. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)is typically administered by an audiologist and works by using sound therapy to retrain your brain to tune out and be less aware of the tinnitus. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) isa form of counselling to change the way you think about your tinnitus and to help reduce anxiety. Tinnitus counselling can help you learn about tinnitus and find ways to cope with it.
Tinnitus Treatment Near Me in Georgetown, Texas
If you have symptoms of tinnitus and are looking for an effective treatment, contact the expert ENT providers at Georgetown ENT. We are experienced in diagnosing and treating tinnitus in patients of all ages and can evaluate your condition to ensure we address your needs effectively.
At Georgetown ENT, we offer a comprehensive range of adult and pediatric ear, nose, and throat healthcare services, including treatments for tinnitus, acute and recurring ear infections, hearing loss, and hearing-related balance problems.