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What is Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the sounds in your head or ears that are often described as ringing in the ears. This sound can be described as ringing, crickets, buzzing, roaring, whistling or any other description people assign to the unknown sound. It can be in one or both ears and be constant or intermittent. Tinnitus affects about 15-20% of the population.  There is no known cure for tinnitus yet. Most people that suffer from tinnitus learn to live with it and block it out. There is a small percentage of people that are debilitated by it and need to seek treatment options.  Ironically, hearing loss in high frequencies is usually linked to tinnitus.

In rare cases, tinnitus can occur as a rhythmic pulsing or whooshing sound and often in time with your heartbeat. This is called pulsatile tinnitus. If you have pulsatile tinnitus, your doctor may be able to hear your tinnitus when he or she does an examination (objective tinnitus) and you should see an ENT physician.

Causes of Tinnitus

Causes of tinnitus can vary from something as simple as wax in the ear canal to as serious as a small benign growth on the hearing nerve.  Whenever you have tinnitus, it is important to get your hearing evaluated especially if the tinnitus is only in one ear.

Typical causes:

  • Loud noise exposure
  • Hypertension
  • Age related hearing loss
  • Inner Ear Disease
  • Trauma to the ear

Treatments for tinnitus

  • If you have hearing loss, the best way to minimize the sound is by wearing hearing devices. The tinnitus is masked by putting in the sound that is missing due to your hearing loss.
  • Tinnitus masking devices for sound therapy. There are devices that are designed to help relieve the annoyance of tinnitus.
  • Using Apps on your cell phone or sound machines are another way to mask over the unwanted sounds to help you fall asleep at night.
  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy/Behavioral therapy/Medications/Biofeedback

Links to more information on tinnitus and treatments: