If you find yourself Googling “why are my ears ringing!”, you may be experiencing what is called Tinnitus. Tinnitus simply defined is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head when no external sound is present. According to the American Tinnitus Association, 15% of the general public experience some form of Tinnitus in their lifetime. The good news? Tinnitus is not considered a condition or disease but is instead a symptom typically triggered by something bigger such as an ear infection, high blood pressure, or hearing loss.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
It is important to note that Tinnitus varies from person to person, can occur at any age, and can begin suddenly or progress gradually. Some people hear actual ringing in their ears while others can feel vibrating, buzzing, whistling, or even chirping. Whatever the noise is, it is likely very real and there are now ways of finding relief so take a deep breath and stay with us.
Common Causes of Tinnitus
The most common cause of Tinnitus is exposure to loud sounds. As many as 90% of people with tinnitus have some degree of noise-induced hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage to parts of the inner ear. While common exposure puts you at most risk, a single exposure to a sudden, extremely loud noise can cause tinnitus. Some other causes are head injury, side effects from certain medications, ear infection, high blood pressure, blockage of the ears, pregnancy, and the natural aging process.
Is it Permanent?
The length of time the ringing or sound in your ears will stick around is primarily dependent upon the source and your overall hearing health. The average is between 16 and 48 hours but symptoms can last weeks, months, or even be irreversible. Further exposure to any loud noise can trigger tinnitus again once it has subsided, so be cautious of your environment especially while experiencing symptoms. While Tinnitus is typically short-lived, there are occasions in which the impact is more severe and causes it to be irreversible. For example, Tinnitus is the number one disability for military veterans. Their continuous exposure to loud weapons often causes permanent damage to their ears leaving with a constant ringing of the ears. If you have experienced Tinnitus for more than two weeks or if it is distracting you from your overall quality of life, we recommend seeking out an Audiologist.
Treatment Options Available
While there is yet to be a universal cure for Tinnitus, several treatment options have become available that make it less of a distraction. Meeting with an Audiologist and beginning the process of identifying the underlying condition could lead to a medical or surgical solution. Otherwise, there are symptom management techniques that can help you cope with it including Acoustic therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, hearing aids, counseling, and more. To learn more about each of these options, click here.
If you are one of the many fortunate ones who’s tinnitus goes away, it is important to take hearing loss prevention methods that will help prevent it from returning. Simple acts such as keeping the radio volume down, wearing hearing protection when you know you will be around loud noise (sporting events, concerts, shooting range, etc.), limit the number of noisy appliances running at the same time or consider quieter products, and more. Here is a list of hearing protection devices that we recommend to assist in the prevention of hearing loss, which ultimately helps prevent Tinnitus.
If you or a loved one are experiencing Tinnitus and want to get to the bottom of it, schedule an appointment with Camellia Audiology. We offer comprehensive hearing evaluations for adults and pediatrics & provide a personalized process to achieve your overall hearing health.