You’ve heard that people with hearing loss will often suffer in silence, but you seem to have the opposite problem. Your family’s words, street noises, and even the volume on your television are being drowned out by a persistent noise that no one else seems to hear, making you long for the silence that others are forced to endure.
If this sounds familiar, you could be one of the thirteen million Americans who have tinnitus.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” but it can be any constant noise that seems to be coming from within the patient’s ears. In most cases, tinnitus is subjective, meaning that you are the only one able to hear the sound. The noise a patient hears can vary from low, dull noises (buzzing, roaring, or humming) to high-pitched noises (hissing or whistling), and the noise is often so severe that it interferes with the patient’s daily activities.
People may experience tinnitus for a variety of reasons, including:
- Noise exposure. Exposure to excessive noise levels, such as rock concerts or construction areas, can damage the eardrum, cochlea, or other structures of the inner ear.
- Aging. Over time, the cochlea and eardrum may begin to deteriorate due to the natural aging process. Tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand-in-hand, as the aging of bodily tissues also causes less aural acuity.
- Ear canal blockage. A blockage in the ear canal can cause patients to hear certain head noises, such as a “waves on the shore” sound caused by fluid retention or a clicking sound caused by a buildup of earwax. Some patients are evaluated for tinnitus only to discover a tumor in the ear canal blocking sound transmission, leaving the symptoms to subside once the tumor is removed.
- Injury or disease. Pulsatile tinnitus occurs when the noise in your head is in sync with your heartbeat, and can be a sign of cardiovascular problems (such as high blood pressure or anemia), diabetes, or a thyroid condition. If a patient with tinnitus is suffering from nausea or dizzy spells, he or she could be suffering from Meniere's disease, a condition of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance.
Treatment for your tinnitus depends on what is causing your condition. In our offices, patients will undergo a complete hearing test to determine the cause, type, and extent of your tinnitus to devise the solution that will deliver the best results. We will also tell you if additional diagnostic treatment, such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan, is needed to rule out further medical complications.
A Hearing Aid Could Get Rid of Your Tinnitus for Good
Hearing aids are particularly effective in treating tinnitus because they amplify natural sounds in the person’s environment, effectively “drowning out” head noise. People who are experiencing minor hearing loss may opt for sound maskers, a tinnitus therapy aid that emits a pleasant low-level noise that stifles the head noise. Hearing aids and maskers have both been shown to relieve stress and frustration for tinnitus sufferers, as they are once again in control of the sounds they hear.
If you are ready to get rid of the ringing in your ears once and for all, Tru-Tone’s hearing care specialists are available in a variety of convenient locations around Philadelphia to make it easy for you to find relief. Call the number on this page to make an appointment at the office nearest you!