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“What is Tinnitus?” and Other Frequently Asked Questions About Tinnitus

What is tinnitus? How can I treat it? Find the answers to these and more FAQs in this post.

What is tinnitus? Find the answers in this blog post.

Our ears are surprisingly complex organs. They regulate our balance and, of course, our hearing. But like any other part of our body, they can sometimes experience problems. One of the most common ear-related issues is tinnitus, typically experienced as a persistent sound heard in one or both ears.

If you suspect you may have tinnitus, you’re not alone; according to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus affects 15 to 20% of older adults. As with any health topic, there are a lot of questions about tinnitus that someone experiencing symptoms likely has.

Learn more about tinnitus and how to treat it with these frequently asked questions.

What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is best described as a ringing or buzzing in one or both ears. The word tinnitus comes from the Latin verb, “tinnire,” which means to ring. The sound can be constant, or it can come and go over the course of the day.

There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type and is characterized by sounds only you can hear. Objective, on the other hand, is a rare type caused by a health issue or other “source” that your doctor can also hear during your exam, usually using a stethoscope.

What causes tinnitus?
There are a few primary causes of tinnitus: age-related hearing loss and, more commonly, prolonged exposure to loud noises. Tinnitus can also occur after a single loud event, such as a concert or witnessing an explosion. Other causes can include head or neck injuries, earwax build-up, and Meniere’s Disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells and hearing loss.

What treatments are available?
Your doctor or audiologist may suggest a device to “mask” the sounds associated with tinnitus, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), hearing aids, or cognitive therapy. While their effectiveness hasn’t been proven in medical studies, some people find relief in alternative treatments, such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, or hypnosis. As always, your doctor or audiologist is the best person to give you a personalized treatment plan.

I think I might have tinnitus. What should I do?
Make an appointment with your primary care physician. They can help to give you a preliminary diagnosis and refer you to an audiologist or other hearing healthcare professional if necessary. Some people find tinnitus to be merely an annoyance that they’re able to manage on their own, while for others, it may interfere with their daily lives and worsen over time.

While it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with tinnitus with some online research, you should always turn to a medical professional to receive a diagnosis before seeking treatment.

Keep reading the CapTel blog for more tinnitus and hearing loss information and resources.