Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a common condition among those with hearing loss. The symptoms often vary from person to person. Some patients describe hearing a high-pitched tone; others hear a whistling. Although the sounds may differ in each patient, they are all noises that can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable.
What Causes Tinnitus?
While exposure to loud noises is the most common cause of tinnitus, patents may experience head noise from a variety of conditions.
- Aging. Patients may suffer tinnitus due to deterioration of the eardrum or cochlea, a common side effect of aging. It is common for patients to suffer tinnitus in conjunction with hearing loss, making hearing aids a particularly effective form of treatment.
- Blockages. Some patients experience head noise due to a blockage in their ear canals, such as a buildup of earwax, a tumor, or swelling from an ear infection. In many cases, tinnitus symptoms will subside once the cause has been successfully treated.
- Drug side effects. Many medications ,both prescription and also over-the-counter, list tinnitus as a potential side effect. If you are taking a variety of medications, including aspirin, NSAIDs, antibiotics, or sedatives, you should always discuss side effects and the effects of combining medications with your doctor.
- Illness or disease. Many medical conditions have been linked to tinnitus, including cardiovascular disease, anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid problems. Patients who suffer from Meniere's disease, a condition of the inner ear, or otosclerosis, hardening of the small bones in the ear, may be likewise afflicted.
- Head or neck problems. Patients who have experienced injuries to the head or neck may “hear” noises due to nerve damage, while those who suffer from jaw problems such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders may have both pain and ringing in their ears.
If tinnitus goes untreated, a person may experience concentration problems or develop chronic insomnia as a result of the constant noise. The longer the condition is allowed to progress, the more likely the person will suffer further complications including irritability, anxiety or depression.
How Hearing Aids Help Tinnitus Symptoms
Hearing aids can relieve the stress and annoyance of tinnitus in two different ways. For patients who experience tinnitus in addition to hearing loss, a hearing aid can amplify speech sounds and background noises so that the person can focus on his environment, rather than the head noise. If a patient has minor hearing loss, there are tinnitus therapy hearing aids that emit low-level noises to mask or muffle the buzz or ringing sound of tinnitus.
No matter what is causing your tinnitus, our hearing care providers can find the solution that is right for you. We have many office locations throughout Maryland and Delaware, so we likely have an office just minutes from your front door. Call the number on this page to make an appointment at the office nearest you.