Do you or a loved one hear a ringing or noise in your ear that no one else can hear? If so, you are one of approximately 50 million people in the US who are affected by this noise, which we call tinnitus. Typically there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are treatment options available to help reduce or completely mask the effect of the tinnitus.
Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tus) is a the perception of a sound or ringing in the ear without an external noise presented. Tinnitus is a symptom that is often a secondary condition associated with many causes listed below. Tinnitus is often referred to as “ringing in the ear,” but can also described as a buzzing, humming, hissing, whistling, static noise, or clicking sound in the ear. It can be sporadic, or it can be constant. The perception of tinnitus varies from person to person in loudness, severity, and type.
Determining the cause of the tinnitus can sometimes be difficult. Your Audiologist will first perform a diagnostic auditory evaluation. Next your Audiologist will pinpoint the pitch, loudness, and perceived characteristics of the tinnitus through headphones in a soundproof booth. Once the Audiologist closely matches the perceived tinnitus a number of treatment options will be discussed.
You may wonder how such a condition might be treated. With the constant and oppressive sound of ringing in the ears, it seems like a difficult condition to address, feeling as if the sound originates within one’s own brain. In fact, all sound in one sense does originate in one’s own brain. Although pressure in the form of sound waves presses against the sensitive membranes of the outer and middle ear, these pressure waves are not interpreted as “sound” until they are channeled to the brain through the auditory nervous system. Since all sound occurs in this manner, those who have ringing in their ears can have the condition addressed through a number of treatment options.
The American Tinnitus Association recommends a number of treatment options: