Discover symptoms, causes, and remedies to lessen its impact on your life.
Tinnitus is a term that comes from the Latin verb, “tinnire,” which means to ring. Pronounced TIN-ih-tus, it is defined as the perception of sound in your ears or head that is not caused by an outside source. The American Tinnitus Association estimates that nearly 50 million Americans experience tinnitus in varying degrees of severity. Many people with tinnitus find it to be an annoyance while others with more severe symptoms report it affecting concentration, sleep, stress levels, and relationships. If tinnitus has affected you or someone you know, following is helpful information to help you learn more about it, including:
- Tinnitus symptoms
- Tinnitus types
- Tinnitus causes
- Tinnitus treatments
- When to see a doctor
Continue reading below to discover important information you need to know about tinnitus.
People who experience tinnitus describe the sensation in many ways. It can mimic ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, chirping, whirring, or another sound. Listen to sample tinnitus sounds to help you understand what someone with tinnitus may be hearing or find the one that best matches your experience. These noises from tinnitus can occur continuously or intermittently, and the volume and pitch can vary. You may experience it in one or both ears, and it can become more noticeable when you’re in a quiet environment, like when you go to bed at night.
There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type and is characterized by sounds that only you can hear. Objective, on the other hand, is a rare type that your doctor can also hear during your exam. Understanding the type of tinnitus you have can help to uncover the cause and possible treatment options.
One of the most common tinnitus causes is prolonged exposure to loud noises. However, some people can experience symptoms after just a single loud event, such as attending a rock concert or witnessing an explosion. Other factors known to be associated with tinnitus include injury to the ear or head, neck or jaw problems, natural aging, ear infection or wax buildup, Meniere’s disease, and certain medications.
Tinnitus remedies and solutions
Unless an underlying treatable condition causes your symptoms, there is no known cure for tinnitus. However, some treatments can help lessen its impact on your life. Your primary care doctor or audiologist may suggest medications, hearing aids, masking devices, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), and cognitive therapy. While not proven for effectiveness, you may also find relief from alternative treatments, such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, or hypnosis. For many, keeping steady background noise is one recommended way to manage your symptoms.
If tinnitus makes it difficult to hear over the phone, consider using a captioned telephone to help you catch every word.
When to see a doctor
Consider making an appointment with your doctor if the noise from tinnitus is accompanied by pain, drainage, dizziness, you develop it following a respiratory infection, or any of its effects become bothersome. While there is no diagnostic tool for tinnitus, your doctor may perform a variety of tests that can help determine its cause. Your appointment may include a hearing exam or imaging tests, and a detailed discussion of the sound you’re hearing.
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