Tinnitus is a ringing sound in one or both ears. Patients usually hear noises that aren’t there, which are high or low pitched. Sometimes, tinnitus is a temporary issue that you need not worry about. However, there are cases where it is a sign of a bigger issue.
Many things can cause tinnitus, but the most common is exposure to loud noises. Other causes include head trauma, stress, ear wax, drugs, and certain illnesses. Coffee and tobacco are also known causes of tinnitus since they stimulate nerves in the ear.
Since tinnitus is a sign that something is wrong with your body, the right thing to do when you experience these noises is see an Audiology doctor. This way, you can find out the root cause of the condition and seek treatment.
When you visit an audiologist, he or she will examine your ears, neck, and head to find possible causes of tinnitus. Other examinations include;
- Audiological Exam
This is a hearing exam that requires you to sit in a soundproof room wearing earphones. The audiology doctor will play specific sounds, and you’ll indicate when you hear the sound. This exam is usually conducted one ear at a time to determine which ear experiences tinnitus. This examination usually helps with ruling out or identifying the causes of tinnitus.
This is yet another test your audiology doctor will conduct. You’ll be asked to move your neck, eyes, arms, and legs. The test might also involve clenching your jaw. This test usually helps identify underlying disorder when the condition worsens.
- Imaging Tests
These tests are varied depending on the suspected cause of your tinnitus. Imaging tests include MRI and CT scans.
Different Types of Tinnitus Sounds
Describing the sound you hear helps audiologist rule out and identity the underlying cause of your condition.
- Humming or Rushing
These noises are usually vascular in origin, and they tend to fluctuate. You may notice them when change positions, such as when you lie down or stand up or when you’re exercising.
Sharp clicking sounds might be a result of muscle contractions around your ear. Patients who experience this noise say it comes in bursts. They may last from several seconds to a few minutes.
This is also known as pulsatile tinnitus, and it results from blood vessel problems which amplify the sound of a patient’s heartbeat. The underlying cause could be a tumor, blockage of the ear canal or high blood pressure.
- Low Pitch Ringing
Meniere’s disease is the most common cause of low pitch ringing in patients. Vertigo patients also experience loud tinnitus before an attack. In this case, the tinnitus ringing noise is accompanied by a sense that your surrounding is spinning.
- High Pitch Ringing
A blow to the ear or exposure to very loud noise is likely to result in a high pitch ringing. In such cases, the buzzing goes away after a couple of hours. However, tinnitus might end up being permanent if the blow results in hearing loss.
Additionally, long-term exposure to loud noises, and age-related hearing loss cause continuous ringing in both ears.
For most patients, tinnitus comes and goes without adversely affecting one’s normal function. But there are severe cases where patients experience the ringing sound all the time. This unsurprisingly affects a patient’s concentration and quality of sleep, as well.
There is no cure for tinnitus, but you can always manage the condition. Patients who experience mild and occasional tinnitus don’t necessarily need treatment but those whose condition is severe need to look into medication options.
There are known tinnitus medication, but they only work in some cases. Patients who don’t benefit from known medication can use masking techniques like sound source generators. These generators are built into hearing aids to block out the tinnitus noises.
Biofeedback training is also available as a treatment for patients who experience tinnitus because of stress. This training teaches patients how to control and relax parts of their bodies. This sort of relaxation can stop tinnitus and eliminate the need for treatment.
Prevention is always better than cure, and this holds true even in the case of tinnitus. Individuals can prevent tinnitus by ensuring they are not exposed to loud noises. Protecting your hearing saves you from a life long condition that has no cure.
If noise is one of the career hazards you have to deal with, you can mitigate this by investing in voice canceling earplugs. Musicians, factory workers, and construction workers understand the dangers of being exposed to loud noises. Furthermore, earplugs or ear defenders to prevent you from damaging your ears too.
If you suspect that you have tinnitus, make a point of seeing an audiologist. Seeking medical attention early allows you to treat the condition before it gets worse. Book a hearing test with us today and put your mind at ease from worry. If you have a question or concern, please contact us.