What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus (TIN-i-tus or tin-EYE-tus), or ear ringing, is a common problem that affects up to 25% of the adult population of the United States. It is the perception of a sound (ringing, buzzing, humming, shushing, etc.) when no physical sound source is present. You’re not crazy though! Although in most cases nothing in the ear is physically making a sound, your brain still perceives a sound to be occurring.
What causes tinnitus?
Ringing in the ears is most commonly thought to be caused by hearing loss. Hearing loss usually occurs as a result of an interruption to the ears’ ability to properly process sounds. This interruption can be caused by a physical blockage that stops sound from traveling through the ear (conductive hearing loss) or by damage to the ear’s sensory organ/hearing nerve itself (sensorineural hearing loss). While either type of hearing loss can cause tinnitus, conductive hearing loss is often temporary and treatable (think wax in the ear or a middle ear infection). Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, is usually permanent and can occur naturally as a result of aging, as well as from loud noise exposure and multiple other medical causes.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
Currently, there is not a cure for tinnitus, unless it occurs as a side effect of many conductive hearing losses. That’s why it’s always important to be evaluated by an ear nose and throat physician and an audiologist if you’re noticing ringing or buzzing in your ears. The medical research does look promising, but for now our best bet is to manage the tinnitus through a combination of hearing aids and cognitive behavioral therapy. If you or a loved one are looking for ways to manage tinnitus, request an appointment with South Lake Hearing and Tinnitus Center today.