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Constant Ringing in Your Ears? You Are Not Alone.

Have you ever heard a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears and wonder where it is coming from? If you have searched your household high and low, without locating the source of the sound – you are most likely experiencing tinnitus. Tinnitus is an auditory phenomenon that is produced and heard internally, in the absence of external noise (Moller, 2011). It can be described as hissing, ringing, whooshing and even musical tones. Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears and may be constant or intermittent throughout your day.

According to the American Academy of Audiology, nearly 40-50 million U.S. residents have experienced tinnitus, with close to 2.5 million feeling debilitated by the symptom. Tinnitus is not considered a disease itself, but it is a symptom of some other underlying health condition.  Though there are many unanswered questions regarding the specific cause of tinnitus, what we do know is that tinnitus is most often associated with sensorineural hearing loss. However, there are many other health disorders that can generate tinnitus as a symptom. Some other causes of tinnitus are head and neck injuries, traumatic brain injury, sinus pressure, high blood pressure and ear infections.  Tinnitus can also be triggered or made worse by stress, loud noise exposure, medications, and diet and lifestyle choices.

Untreated tinnitus can be associated with sleeping difficulties, concentration problems and mood disturbances such as stress and irritability. At this time, there is no cure for tinnitus – only treatment options. For many people, tinnitus can be reduced significantly with the use of amplification. One theory behind the mechanism of tinnitus suggests that if the auditory cortex (where we process sound) is receiving a degraded signal from the ear (i.e. hearing loss), then the brain will start to generate its own sound which can be perceived as tinnitus. Once we supply the brain with a strong, high-integrity signal the tinnitus will often become less noticeable and bothersome.

Doctors of Audiology are trained specialists to evaluate and quantify the sound you hear through tinnitus evaluations. What is important to us is how the tinnitus affects your daily life. Our treatment plans are personalized and can range from something as simple as a sound generator to hearing aids to cognitive behavioral therapy. If tinnitus affects you, it is worth scheduling a tinnitus evaluation with a Doctor of Audiology to customize a treatment plan for your individual needs.