Tinnitus (Ringing In The Ears)

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a symptom not a disease. It is a perception of noises or sounds in the head, one ear or both ears when no external sound source is present. It is described as high pitched ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling, hissing and even chirping, and can be constant or periodic. Tinnitus can occur at any age and may begin suddenly or progress gradually.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be triggered by a variety of causes but most commonly by noise exposure, aging, excessive ear wax, middle or inner ear disorders (ie Meniere's disease), high blood pressure, stress, depression, sensory nerve disorders, head injuries, or as a side effect of certain medications. Since tinnitus is subjective, it affects people in different ways and the severity can be determined by factors such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine, excessive use of aspirin/antibiotics, stress. Many tinnitus sufferers also experience depression, sleep disorders and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment Options

Although there is no cure for tinnitus there are options for relief which include sound therapy (hearing aids) and counselling. Sound therapy or amplified sound from hearing aids, environmental influences, music or sound from noise generators can help to mask or make the tinnitus less noticeable. Most hearing aids can help to alleviate the tinnitus however certain hearing aids have built-in technology specifically for tinnitus relief. Another option is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) or habituation therapy which involves retraining the brain to perceive the tinnitus differently. Most people are able to ignore it and aren't bothered by it. The goal of TRT is to help your brain to process the noise so it doesn't bother you as much. The first step is to see a professional audiologist and/or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. We at Armstrong Hearing have had success with acoustic therapy (hearing aids) and can help find a treatment plan for the cause of your tinnitus.