Have you recently experienced ringing in one or both of your ears? You might be experiencing tinnitus. An ear appointment with our audiologists might be just what you need to enhance your overall wellness and improve your ear health. Here's what to know about the causes of tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Commonly referred to as ringing in the ears, tinnitus is a medical condition that results in an internal sound that can be heard inside your head or from either of your ears.
Tinnitus can happen at random intervals or constantly; the sounds can be continuous or pulsating. Some patients may experience tinnitus as a ringing noise, while for others, it sounds more like hissing, buzzing, humming, roaring, or whistling.
What are the Causes of Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be caused by several different reasons and differs from one patient to another. Some common causes of tinnitus include:
- heart problems
- sinus or inner ear infections
- high-noise work environments
- hearing loss
- buildup of cerumen (earwax)
- thyroid problems
- Meniere's disease
- dental disorders
- certain medications
- twitches in ear muscles—this results in a constant clicking sound
For some patients, tinnitus can occur as a result of damage to the tiny hair cells that are present within the ear. These hair cells are responsible for transforming sound waves into nerve impulses, and damage to them causes the brain to increase its efforts to detect the sound waves resulting in either high-pitched or low-pitched electrical noise.
What to Expect During a Tinnitus Evaluation Session
If you've never had a tinnitus evaluation before, you might be wondering what to expect during the appointment. A trained audiologist or ENT physician at Reuhl Audiology will begin by asking you a series of detailed questions to determine your current health as well as any injuries or medications that could lead to the onset of tinnitus.
It's important for your audiologist to conduct a physical exam of your neck, head, and ears during your session. A comprehensive hearing evaluation is also highly recommended, especially for those patients that may be experiencing hearing loss as a result of tinnitus. Imaging tests such as an MRI may also be conducted depending on your individual case.
As tinnitus is highly individualized, treatment options will differ from one patient to the next. Treatments can include injections of Botox or medications like Lidocaine to relax muscles near or within the ear. For patients that work in high-noise environments, getting fitted for earmolds or earplugs to protect hearing might be suggested.
For more information about tinnitus and its causes contact Reuhl Audiology at (630) 230-2373.