Do you ever experience a ringing, buzzing, or whooshing sound in your ears that isn’t there when you check? If so, you may be experiencing tinnitus, known as the perception of sound when no external noise is present.
This condition can be caused by a variety of factors. In this article, we’ll discuss tinnitus in more depth and cover some of the most frequently asked questions about it.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be a ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or clicking sound and it can vary in pitch from low to high. For some people, this can be a minor nuisance. But for others, it can be a very bothersome and even debilitating condition.
Individuals with severe symptoms may reach a point where they suspect that something might be wrong with their brains because the sounds just won’t go away.
Untreated tinnitus could bring significant negative impact on a person’s daily life so it is highly recommended to see a doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
What are the symptoms of tinnitus?
The main symptom is the perception of sound when no external noise is present. However, tinnitus can also cause other symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
There are many potential causes of tinnitus, including:
- Exposure to loud noise: Repeated exposure to loud noise can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear and lead to tinnitus.
- Age-related hearing loss: As we age, it’s not uncommon for our hearing to start to decline.
- Earwax buildup: Too much earwax can block the ear canal and lead to ringing in the ears.
- Ear bone changes: Stiffening of the bones in the middle ear (otosclerosis) can cause ringing in the ears.
- Other health conditions: There are a variety of other health conditions that can cause tinnitus, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid problems.
When to see an audiologist
See an audiologist if you’re experiencing tinnitus regularly or constantly. If the symptoms are getting worse – for example, it’s affecting your sleep or concentration or is making you feel anxious and depressed, you need to see a doctor right away.
Audiologists can perform a hearing test to see if you have tinnitus and help identify the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
What if the sounds in my ear do not go away?
If the sounds in your ear do not go away, it is important to see an audiologist. Audiologists can help identify the underlying cause of your tinnitus and develop a treatment plan.
Is tinnitus curable?
There is no cure for this condition, but there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.
Is tinnitus serious?
Tinnitus is not a serious condition, but it can be very bothersome and even debilitating for some people. For some people, this condition can be a source of genuine mental and emotional suffering.
What foods to avoid if you have tinnitus?
There is no specific diet that you need to avoid. However, some people find that certain foods or drinks can make the symptoms worse. These include:
Can tinnitus be cured by surgery?
Technically, yes. It may be possible to cure this condition through surgery given that it is caused or paired with acoustic neuroma. By removing the acoustic neuroma through surgery, tinnitus may be cured or resolved.
In a study conducted in 2016, 17% of the total participants reported that their tinnitus was resolved while 9% reported improvement with acoustic neuroma surgery.
Generally, tinnitus is considered a symptom rather than a disease. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for this condition. The best approach depends on the underlying cause and how bothersome your symptoms are.
Common tinnitus treatments include:
- Sound therapy: This involves using sound to mask or distract from the tinnitus noise. This can be done with a sound machine, white noise app, or tinnitus retraining therapy.
- Hearing aids: There are specific hearing aids that come with tinnitus-friendly features to address the issues of individuals with hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Counseling: This can help you learn how to cope with the disturbing noises and make them less bothersome.
- Tinnitus maskers: These are devices that generate low-level white noise that can help mask the tinnitus noise.
- Medications: There are a variety of medications that can be used to treat tinnitus, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and pain relievers.
There are a number of things that can increase your risk of tinnitus, including:
- Age: The condition is more common in older adults.
- Exposure to loud noise: Repeated exposure to loud noise can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear.
- Family history: If you have a family member with tinnitus, you may be more likely to develop the condition yourself.
Tinnitus can lead to a number of complications, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
If you have tinnitus, you may also have hearing loss. This is because the same underlying causes of overlap with each other. The most common cause of both tinnitus and hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. If you think you may have both, it’s important to see an audiologist to address the problems.
Many individuals may not even be aware that they have both problems. In some cases, tinnitus generally follows the same pattern as your hearing loss.
Why is tinnitus louder at night?
There are a few reasons why tinnitus might be worse at night. First, there are less background noise to mask the noises. Another reason could be attributed to the fact that when you’re lying down, blood flows more slowly to your head, which can make the noises more noticeable.
There is no sure way to prevent tinnitus, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk, such as:
- Avoiding exposure to loud noise: This is the most important thing you can do to prevent tinnitus.
- Wearing ear protection: If you must be exposed to loud noise, wear ear protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
- Managing other health conditions: If you have a health condition that can cause tinnitus, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure it is well-controlled.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can make tinnitus worse.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking can damage the blood vessels in your inner ear and lead to tinnitus.
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