Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears)
Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant-with single or multiple tones-and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering.
Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss—such as when hearing loss is caused by noise damage to the ear. But the two conditions do not always occur together. Some people with tinnitus have no measurable hearing loss.
While the exact physiological causes of tinnitus are not known, there are some factors known to trigger or worsen tinnitus. These factors include noise exposure; head and neck trauma; disorders such as hyperthyroidism, Lyme disease and fibromyalgia. Tinnitus may also result from certain tumors, wax buildup, heart disease and ototoxic medications.
In general, there is no cure for most tinnitus sufferers, but some forms of tinnitus, particularly middle-ear tinnitus, can be treated. Sometimes a medication can cause tinnitus, and stopping or changing medications can eliminate the tinnitus.
There are a number of tinnitus management strategies available today, including counseling and sound therapies. However, these options do not work for everyone. Due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. It is important to discuss your particular tinnitus situation with an Audiologist or other qualified health professional. Begin with a comprehensive hearing test and regular checkups.