We all look forward to our quiet time. Unfortunately, some of us experience a ringing noise from within that can interrupt those quiet moments. This “ringing” in your ears could be a common audiological symptom called tinnitus, and the good news is that treatment often helps to diminish or eliminate the problem.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not a condition in and of itself, but it is a symptom of another condition. Tinnitus can be brought on by injury, age-related hearing loss, or other types of disorders.

I have treated many patients that complain of various sounds that may come and go or persist. The sounds may include;

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Humming
  • Hissing A patient’s tinnitus falls into one of two categories.

Subjective Tinnitus

95% of tinnitus cases are classified as subjective tinnitus, according to the University of California, San Francisco.  This type of tinnitus can not be heard by others, even during an audiological examination. Subjective tinnitus can be caused by an outer, middle, and inner ear problems – or auditory nerve damage.

Objective Tinnitus

Objective tinnitus is much less common than subjective tinnitus, and an audiological expert can hear it during an examination. An expert can often determine the specific cause of this type of tinnitus, and many cases can be corrected through a variety of methods.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Age

Nerve fibers within the ear can deteriorate over time, and this can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. This can happen at any age, but it is common among people aged 60 and older.

Loud Noises

Tinnitus is also prevalent in individuals who have had either prolonged exposure to loud noises or single exposure to a very damaging level of sound. Loud music, construction noises, gunshots, exposure to noise from heavy machinery, are all possible causes of tinnitus.

Obstructions

If the ear canal is blocked, then pressure can build up and cause tinnitus. Common obstructions include;

  • Earwax buildup
  • Congestion
  • Dirt or debris

Often, when the obstruction is removed, the tinnitus dissipates or disappears entirely.

Medication

Some medications are considered ototoxic, which means that they can damage hearing. Tinnitus that is caused by medication will often go away once a patient stops taking the medication, though some drugs are known to cause permanent tinnitus.

What is Your Next Step?

If your quality of life has been affected by tinnitus, you should consult a qualified Audiological expert to discuss your options. As I outlined above, sometimes tinnitus can be cured, but most cases are permanent. However, that does not mean that my team and I can’t help you to manage your tinnitus.

Contact us at Duncan Hearing Healthcare to book an appointment with us, or if you’d prefer to get help from home, you can schedule a Virtual Hearing Care Appointment. We can help you to identify the cause of your tinnitus and work with you to manage your hearing. You don’t have to accept a life with tinnitus; we can help you to take your hearing health into your own hands.

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Nancy Duncan, Au.D.

Nancy Duncan, Au.D.

Dr. Duncan’s Southcoast roots run deep, establishing a special connection to the community where she practices. A homegrown product, she graduated from Somerset High, just across the Taunton from Fall River, and received her B.S. in communication disorders and psychology from Worcester State College. Her master of science in audiology was awarded at the University of Arkansas in 1997, after which she worked for several private audiology practices in Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.