Nearly 50 million Americans experience tinnitus. It is more common in males than females. For about 25 percent of people with tinnitus, it is a real problem. Tinnitus is a symptom and some of its causes are not well understood. Treatment of the underlying cause may resolve tinnitus. Although there is no cure for chronic tinnitus, Listen Hear Diagnostics can provide you with management programs for tinnitus relief.
Noise exposure and undiagnosed hearing loss are some of the most common causes of tinnitus. When auditory stimulation to the brain is decreased due to hearing loss, tinnitus may result. Deterioration of hair cells in the inner ear due to aging or occupational exposure to noise frequently cause hearing loss.
However, there are other causes of tinnitus as well. This includes:
Excessive earwax: If earwax obstructs the ear canal, it prevents sounds from entering the ear. This can cause tinnitus and the symptoms of hearing loss.
Otosclerosis: This abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear is most common in females. It may be caused by hormonal changes after pregnancy and usually affects both ears.
Meniere’s disease: Fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo are all symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Symptoms may come and go and can be caused by excessive fluid in the inner ear.
Acoustic tumor: A benign tumor that affects either the auditory or vestibular portion of the 8th nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain can cause tinnitus.
Head and neck injuries: If traumatic injury to the head or neck causes complications with blood flow and surrounding muscles, tinnitus in one ear can result.
Temporomandibular joint disorder: The same muscles and ligaments that are attached to the jaw are also located at the front of the ear, adjacent to the auditory system. If TMJ affects the lower jaw causing facial pain and limited mobility, tinnitus may also be present.
Ototoxic drugs: High doses of aspirin, certain diuretics, antibiotics, cancer drugs and antidepressants can cause ringing in the ear.
These are just a few of the many causes of tinnitus. Examination by an audiologist or physician is crucial to identifying the underlying cause of tinnitus. Proper treatment depends on the tinnitus cause.
Tinnitus can lead to difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, irritability and distraction. Those with tinnitus may become withdrawn, furthering depression and anxiety. Treatments range from hearing aids to Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.
When auditory input decreases due to hearing loss, the brain finds ways to compensate. In doing so, the auditory cortex can perceive spontaneous neural activity in the auditory pathway as “noise.” The phantom ringing, chirping, whirring and buzzing that results is perceived as tinnitus. Hearing aids increase auditory input and brain stimulation.
Tinnitus retraining therapy
If tinnitus causes a negative response, it becomes more bothersome evoking a more negative response. This loop will begin to involve other parts of the brain and increases the perception of tinnitus. It is possible to retrain the connection between the brain the auditory system using sound therapy and counseling. Over a period of 12-24 months, training sessions at Listen Hear Audiology Center will habituate you to tinnitus and sound sensitivity through directive counseling, sound therapy and external sound machines and wearable devices.