What to Know About Tinnitus

It’s believed that about one out of every five people in El Paso struggles with a ringing in their ears known as tinnitus. Though very common, there are a lot of misperceptions about tinnitus – perhaps because every individual case is unique. We’ll help demystify it for you.

For Starters, Tinnitus Isn’t a Disease

old bell ringing

Saying somebody “suffers from tinnitus” isn’t exactly accurate, given that tinnitus isn’t actually a disease. It’s considered a symptom, the side effect of another underlying factor or medical condition. Some of the many possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • Aging
  • Noise exposure
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Earwax buildup
  • Head and neck injuries
  • TMJ disorders
  • Inner ear disorders
  • Acoustic neuromas (benign tumors)
  • Circulatory or vascular disorders
  • Ototoxic medications

Sometimes, your doctor won’t be able to determine exactly what is causing that ringing in your ears. Oh, and that’s another thing: you might be experiencing something other than a ringing noise. People often report roaring, whistling, clicking, buzzing, whooshing, humming and other sounds. And while some people consider tinnitus an intermittent nuisance, others find it severely impacts many areas of their daily lives, interfering with sleep, making concentration difficult, and causing stress, anxiety, fatigue, social withdrawal and depression. Its effects can hamper job performance and lead to relationship problems.

What Can I Do to Quiet the Distraction?

The bad news is, tinnitus has no cure. It occurs when the hair cells in your inner ear that are responsible for sending electrical signals to the brain for interpretation begin misfiring after being damaged. Remember that long list of possible causes we talked about? All of them can cause harm to these sensory cells, and once damaged, they won’t regenerate and can’t be fixed. Take precautions to prevent tinnitus by making it a habit to always wear hearing protection whenever you are exposed to noisy activities, keeping the volume on your music set to no more than 60 percent of maximum and making hearing screenings a part of your regular medical routine.

If you already have tinnitus, there are options besides simply putting up with the noises in your head. Your Los Angeles audiologist helps many patients just like you manage their tinnitus symptoms through coping strategies. Popular masking techniques such as white noise therapy and tinnitus retraining therapy shift “cover up” the noisy distraction by shifting your brain’s attention to other, more soothing sounds. Relaxation exercises, meditation, counseling, antidepressants, switching to alternative drugs and making changes to your diet and lifestyle may all improve your quality of life.

For more information on tinnitus or to schedule a hearing exam, talk to a Los Angeles hearing professional today.