Life gets loud sometimes. A life well lived is often very loud. Unfortunately, this can cause problems for your hearing. The sensitive organs within the human ear can be harmed by prolonged exposure to loud sounds, or a host of other factors. One of the most common problems of this sort is tinnitus. The defining characteristic of tinnitus is a persistent sound in the ear that can be very faint, very loud. This can make life more difficult at home as well as at work. Tinnitus is a fairly common problem, and there are treatment options available to reduce its effects and improve your quality of life.
What is Tinnitus?
Before we discuss what we can do about tinnitus, we should first understand what it is. Tinnitus is a disorder that causes you to hear sounds that aren’t there. This is often called “ringing” in the ear, but it can also be buzzing, hissing, or popping sounds. The sounds can remain low, or they can progress to the point which they severely affect your ability to hear. The sounds are usually most bothersome when there is little ambient noise around, this can make sleeping difficult, or impossible, and it can affect your ability to concentrate on a task.
Tinnitus is common among people who are routinely exposed to loud noises. Certain professions and activities increase one’s likelihood of developing tinnitus. These include,
- Construction workers
- TV/Radio broadcasters
It is important to note that tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, and hearing loss does not cause tinnitus. Some individuals have tinnitus but do not experience any hearing loss. However, tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand in hand. WebMD.com reports that 90% of people who have tinnitus also suffer from some form of noise-induced hearing loss.
What Causes Tinnitus
Prolonged exposure is not the only cause of tinnitus; it can be caused by multiple diseases, events, and conditions. Some of these include,
- Ear Blockages- A buildup of ear wax, or some other blockage, can cause tinnitus.
- Pharmaceuticals- The Mayo Clinic reports that there are over 200 medications that list tinnitus as a side effect. This usually goes away when the drug is stopped, but there is a chance this may persist.
- Aging- natural aging can cause the ear’s components to wear down and cause tinnitus or other hearing problems.
- Head and neck injuries- Trauma can cause tinnitus.
- A variety of other health problems- High blood pressure, thyroid conditions, anemia, allergies.
In more rare cases, sudden, loud noises can also cause tinnitus. Only a qualified audiologist can determine the exact cause of a specific case of tinnitus.
Is There a Cure for Tinnitus?
Most cases of tinnitus require very little or no treatment at all. There are treatment options available for more severe cases.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, there are no FDA approved drugs specifically for tinnitus. However, some drugs can help an individual suffering from severe tinnitus. These drugs only help a fraction of individuals. An audiologist can help you to determine if it is a viable option for you.
Sound Source Generators
Sound source generators are a type of sound therapy for individuals with tinnitus. This technology can help to mask the tinnitus using various noises. This method does not work for everyone but has proven to be useful for some individuals.
Psychological therapy has been effective in helping people to deal with their tinnitus. This can make their symptoms less severe and vastly improve their quality of life.
How Can You Prevent Tinnitus
While there is no cure, there are plenty of measures that you can take to prevent tinnitus. Hearing protection is very important because it is an effective way to protect your ears from tinnitus and hearing loss. Consistent hearing protection, such as ear plugs and ear defenders, is the best way to avoid developing tinnitus.
I Would Love to Help
Tinnitus is a common problem for millions of people. It is caused by a variety of factors but is typically the result of prolonged exposure to loud noises. The symptoms are often very mild, but they can become more severe and develop into a life-changing condition that could affect your professional and personal life. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are a variety of treatment options available.
If you are suffering from tinnitus, there may be many treatment options available to you. I can help you to identify your condition as well as formulate and implement a strategy tailored to your needs. Do not hesitate to contact my office to discuss your specific situation. It is an honor to serve the Mill Basin area of Brooklyn, and I would love to work with you to improve your life by maintaining, or improving, your hearing health.
Dr. Hadassah Kupfer is a highly qualified and community-focused Audiologist, serving the Mill Basin community. Her extremely friendly and relationship-focused approach combines the expertise and resources of a high-end city practice with the comfort and warmth of a community physician. Both of Hadassah’s parents are doctors, along with many other relatives who also practice a range of medical professions.