What’s the ringing in your ear?

blog-tinnitusDo you hear ringing in your ears? If so, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 45 million Americans experience a form of tinnitus.

Tinnitus is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ear,” and it can affect individuals of any age, said Dr. Shirin Jivani, audiologist in the department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.

In some cases, tinnitus can be perceived as other sounds including:

  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Whistling
  • Swooshing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Pulsing

“Tinnitus can be associated with several health conditions,” she said. “Some of the common causes of tinnitus include age-related hearing loss, or Presbycusis, and noise-induced hearing loss. In rare cases, it can be related to an acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma, which is typically treated by an otologist or neurotologist.”

Tinnitus can be related to other health issues such as:

  • Excessive ear wax build-up
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe injury to head or neck
  • Nasal congestion
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Vestibular disorders such as Ménière’s Disease

“Due to its subjective nature, tinnitus affects each individual differently,” Jivani said. “For some, it may be easy to ignore, and for others it can have a huge emotional impact. While the search for a cure is ongoing, there are several options that can help reduce the perception of tinnitus.”

Hearing aids serve as a dual-purpose to hear better and reduce tinnitus perception. They also can be programmed to provide therapeutic sounds to reduce the impact of tinnitus.

Tinnitus re-training strategies can be used to mask tinnitus such as listening to white noise, television, or music.

Generally, decreasing caffeine consumption may also help reduce tinnitus.

Remember to relax and try not to pay attention to it, she said.

Please consult with your otolaryngologist with regards to possible causes, and visit with an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 713-798-4327.

-By Julia Parsons


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