We have all experienced it, that strange ringing in our ears. This strange and sometimes uncomfortable sensation is called tinnitus, and can come and go. The sound can also come in the form of roaring, buzzing, hissing, or even clicking, and occur in one or both ears.
Tinnitus may come from a variety of causes, including damage to the nerves in the inner ear or stiffening of the bones in the middle ear. Exposure to loud noises can cause temporary tinnitus, as well as an allergy, changes in blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid issues. Injuries to the jaw, head, or neck can result in ringing, or even reactions to certain medications. Some evidence has also shown that tinnitus is more likely to occur as people age.
Tinnitus is generally easy to diagnosis given the ringing, roaring, or buzzing in the ears. Just to be sure, a doctor may want to conduct an audiological evaluation. Other tests may be requested to identify the cause of the tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be uncomfortable and frustrating to live with, often negatively affecting quality of life. It can make it difficult to focus, sleep, and interact with others. Fortunately, skilled healthcare providers can determine what the underlying cause may be, and treat it. Here are a few ways in which relief can be provided for tinnitus:
- Hearing aids. These may benefit some people with tinnitus who have hearing loss. Using a hearing aid may make some sounds louder.
- Cochlear implants. This option is for those who have tinnitus along with severe hearing loss.
- Maskers. These provide help for some people by making tinnitus less noticeable. This small electronic device creates sounds that may make the ringing or roaring seem softer.
- Medication. Some medications may ease tinnitus by addressing a problem related to the condition. Medications may also improve mood or sleep.
- Tinnitus retraining therapy. This therapy uses a combination of counseling and maskers to deal with tinnitus.
- Counseling. A person with tinnitus may benefit from meeting with a counselor or support group.
- Relaxation. This may provide relief for some people as stress may make tinnitus worse.
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