Tinnitus is a sound perceived in the ear(s) or head that is not generated from an outside source. Ringing, hissing, roaring, and crickets are just some of the terms used to describe tinnitus.
Who has tinnitus?
Approximately 50 million Americans have some degree of tinnitus. In about 10 million of these individuals tinnitus is severe enough to impact their quality of life—personally, professionally, and socially. Tinnitus may present itself in individuals regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity.
What causes tinnitus?
The leading known cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise, such as concerts, woodworking tools, recreational sports (hunting), and machinery. Other factors that may trigger tinnitus are ear pathologies (otosclerosis, ear wax), medications, and trauma to head/neck. Many individuals with tinnitus may also have some degree of hearing loss. Although these two conditions may coexist, be aware that tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, and hearing loss does not cause tinnitus.
What are my treatment options?
There are viable and effective tinnitus treatments today— masking, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, Neuromonics, hearing aids, relaxation techniques, and medication (prescribed by your physician). Most importantly, any treatment or combination of treatment options recommended should be individually tailored to best address the needs and concerns of each tinnitus patient.
Where do I go for help?
You should visit your physician or ear, nose, and throat specialist for a medical evaluation. Your audiologist is available to assess your hearing and provide hearing aids should a hearing loss be indicated. Consult with a tinnitus specialist to address your tinnitus concerns. Your doctor, audiologist, and tinnitus specialist make up your team of professionals who will work together to ensure that you receive the best hearing healthcare possible.
A thorough patient history is taken in order to best meet your hearing healthcare needs, as well as to carefully design an individualized tinnitus treatment plan.