Have you heard of tinnitus? It’s a hearing problem that creates phantom sounds in your ears. If you ever hear ringing, roaring, buzzing or whistling sounds that seem to appear from nowhere, you may have tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be caused by many different things and is quite common. As many as 50 million Americans experience some type of tinnitus in their lifetime. It’s usually harmless but it can be a symptom of something serious. If you think you have tinnitus, you should get checked over by your local audiologist and rule out underlying health issues.
What is tinnitus?
The most common type of tinnitus is called subjective tinnitus. It makes you hear noises which aren’t actually there. The noises can appear along with a feeling of vertigo or pressure, or hearing loss. For a small percentage of people, tinnitus is constant and horrible to live with. For others, tinnitus is a minor irritation that crops up only occasionally, sometimes just for a few seconds.
There is a less common type of tinnitus called objective tinnitus, which is more difficult to treat. A doctor will actually be able to hear the sounds of objective tinnitus in your ear with a microphone when they do a hearing check. The sounds can be caused by problems with blood vessels, the middle ear, or muscle contractions.
What causes tinnitus?
Usually tinnitus is caused by exposure to loud noises. If you’re regularly in loud environments, you have a high risk of experiencing tinnitus. However, loud noises aren’t the only cause. Stress, trauma, some drugs, earwax, and certain diseases can also bring on tinnitus. The important thing to remember is that tinnitus is a symptom of something going wrong in your body. That’s why it’s so important to get your hearing checked if you have it.
Can tinnitus be cured and is it dangerous?
Luckily, tinnitus isn’t dangerous. It won’t make you go deaf and in most cases the symptoms will lessen or even disappear over time without treatment.
However, for people with chronic tinnitus, life can become challenging. Simple tasks like listening to people talking, making phone calls, and watching TV can become either difficult or impossible. It’s common for people with chronic tinnitus to suffer from insomnia as the sounds become worse when it’s quiet at night.
There’s no cure for tinnitus, but it is possible to use hearing aids and some medicines to alleviate chronic tinnitus. It’s possible to manage tinnitus by cutting out caffeine and tobacco and reducing stress.
What to do if you have tinnitus
If you think you or someone you know has mild or chronic tinnitus, a hearing evaluation with a tinnitus specialist is the way forward. Here at Johnson Audiology, we have extensive experience in treating tinnitus.
Give us a call today at one of our 5 locations to see how we can help you.
Dr. Megan Johnson is the owner and licensed audiologist at Johnson Audiology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Western Carolina University, a master’s degree in audiology from the University of Tennessee, and her doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida.