Tinnitus / Ringing in Ears
Are you hearing a bothersome ringing in your ears and no there’s no external source of the sound? That’s called tinnitus. The perception of ringing may be present continually, or it may come and go.
Tinnitus isn’t a medical condition. Rather, it’s a symptom often associated with age-related hearing loss. It may also indicate an ear injury or disorder, or a circulation problem.
That’s why it’s critical to see a properly qualified ENT physician like Dr. Scott Franklin for an evaluation and treatment if you suffer from tinnitus. Dr. Franklin will likely perform hearing or balance tests to get at the root cause of your symptoms, and he may also order imaging tests.
What does tinnitus sound like? Well, it’s not just a ringing in the ears. Patients with tinnitus may experience the following sounds in one or both ears:
- Dial tone
- Waves crashing
Tinnitus is very common, affecting approximately 20% of people, and it may get worse with age.
Treatment may depend on what is causing your symptoms.
There are a number of things that can cause tinnitus. One of the most common is exposure to loud noises, which damages the hair cells of the inner ear and often results in hearing loss. These hairs help convert incoming sound vibrations into electrical signals the brain can understand as sound.
When the hair cells are damaged, they can send unprovoked signals to the brain, causing tinnitus. Other causes of tinnitus may include Meniere's disease, eustachian tube dysfunction, inner ear muscle spasms, TMJ disorders, and the side effects of common medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, and aspirin. Sometimes no cause can be identified.
Many of our patients with tinnitus find relief with noise suppression treatment. This may include efforts to reduce or mask the perceived ringing such as:
- Hearing aids, for patients with hearing loss and tinnitus, can make the ringing in the ears less bothersome.
- White-noise devices. This includes in-ear solutions as well as standalone machines that produce low-level white noise that can suppress tinnitus.
Certain medications can help reduce the severity of a patient’s symptoms. For example, tricyclic antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can provide some relief for patients with severe tinnitus. However, there are drawbacks to any type of medication, so be sure to ask your ENT physician what type of treatment is right for you. Indeed, some medications may be the cause of tinnitus.
Tinnitus Treatment in Georgetown, TX
The providers at Georgetown ENT are experienced in diagnosing and treating tinnitus in patients of all ages. We have found that many patients gain some relief with treatment. Before blindly seeking solutions, however, it is important to be thoroughly evaluated so that any possible causes related to your tinnitus can be addressed.