Ring, Ring, Ring: It’s Tinnitus Calling
Tinnitus is often described as a ringing (or sometimes a humming or buzzing) sound that cannot be perceived by others. If you’ve ever experienced tinnitus, you know it can feel jarring and distracting and can even cause feelings of anxiety or stress.
Our Audiologists have seen and treated many patients with tinnitus in our careers, and we’ve answered a lot of questions during that time — questions that we’re going to answer today! Read on for some answers to the most commonly asked tinnitus questions we get in our practice.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a very common experience. In fact, it’s estimated that around 50 million Americans suffer from some form of tinnitus with varying degrees of severity and a variety of causes. Some of the most common causes include:
- Hearing Loss: Sensorineural hearing loss, in particular, is often associated with tinnitus because both are caused by damage to the inner ear, but it is possible to have one without the other, as well.
- Prolonged Exposure to Loud Noise: Noise, especially at high volumes or for long periods of time, can cause damage to the inner ear, which can lead to temporary or permanent tinnitus.
- Wax Buildup: Earwax, or another physical blockage, can trigger tinnitus as the ear is thrown out of equilibrium and sounds cannot be processed as normal.
- Stress: Some qualitative studies have shown that tinnitus tends to worsen in individuals who experience stressful situations, but there is still research to be done to show exactly how stress causes or worsens tinnitus.
- Some Medications: Certain medications are known to be ototoxic, or have a toxic effect on the ear, with one of the side effects being tinnitus. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chemotherapy drugs, and diuretics, among others.
- Allergies or Illness: In the same way that earwax can trigger tinnitus, allergies or illnesses can cause fluid buildup in the ear, leading to a blockage and, in turn, tinnitus.
- Diet: People who consume higher amounts of calcium, iron, and fat may have an increased chance of developing tinnitus.
- Head & Neck Trauma: The head and neck are very interconnected, and injuries to these delicate systems can cause damage to the structures of the ear, causing tinnitus.
- Certain Medical Conditions: Some conditions that cause inflammation or circulation issues, like high blood pressure or hypothyroidism, have been known to cause symptoms like tinnitus.
Is Tinnitus Hereditary?
Recent research has found that tinnitus does have a genetic component, making some individuals more susceptible to developing it, but only specific types of tinnitus. Additionally, genes are usually not the sole cause of tinnitus, and environmental factors, like hearing loss or certain infections, have a much stronger connection to tinnitus than genes alone.
How Long Does Tinnitus Last?
Cases of tinnitus range from mild to severe and also vary in persistence. For some, tinnitus lasts just a few minutes and is fairly irregular. For others, tinnitus is constant and causes significant disruption to day-to-day life.
Can Tinnitus Go Away On Its Own?
Many cases of tinnitus are temporary and resolve themselves with time and without intervention. For example, if you stop taking a medication that was causing tinnitus or you recover from a cold. But, some cases will not go away on their own, especially when the cause is an underlying medical condition or hearing loss.
That’s why it’s important to understand what’s causing your tinnitus. Once you know what’s causing it, you can take action to prevent it from worsening or implement a treatment plan to mitigate the effects it has on your life.
Do Hearing Aids Help Tinnitus?
Yes, hearing aids are a very effective way to treat tinnitus depending on the underlying cause, and they work in a few different ways.
First, because of the common connection between hearing loss and tinnitus, treating the hearing loss in some cases can mitigate the tinnitus symptoms. Secondarily, many modern hearing aids have features to mask the perceived tinnitus sounds, and your hearing care provider can tailor the masking settings to your unique needs, leading to an improved quality of life.
When combined with other tinnitus management methods, hearing aids are a great option for those dealing with tinnitus.
Lyric Hearing Aids for Managing Tinnitus
One of the most exciting new developments in tinnitus management is the Lyric hearing aid, which is the world’s first and only 100% invisible, extended-wear hearing aid. Not only is Lyric extremely comfortable and effective at treating mild to moderate hearing loss, but, since it is worn 24/7, it can provide day and night tinnitus relief.
If you’re in the Denver area, reach out to Colorado Ear Care to see if Lyric is right for you.
Tinnitus isn’t curable, but it can be manageable
While there is not currently a cure for tinnitus, there are several treatment options, including hearing aids and tinnitus retraining therapy, and understanding the root cause of your tinnitus is a key first step in treating it.
If you’re experiencing tinnitus and are seeking relief, our team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at Colorado Ear Care today.