Do you experience ringing, buzzing, or hissing in your ears? If so, you’re not alone. This condition, called tinnitus, affects more than 50 million Americans. Most people report their tinnitus as a fleeting nuisance after a loud concert or during very quiet times. However, approximately 3% of the population experiences tinnitus as something that compromises their overall well-being.
Tinnitus has many causes, ranging from low-risk to severe: ear wax all the way up to serious neurological disorders. It is believed that tinnitus is initiated by damage to the inner ear cells, which are responsible for the transmission of sound. The damage often results from recreational noise exposure, the aging process, or certain medications. Medical conditions, like temporomandibular joint disorder and neck and spine problems can also contribute to tinnitus.
Although you perceive the ringing sounds to be coming from your ears, brain imaging studies have illustrated that tinnitus has more to do with the areas in the brain that process sound. The brain’s neural hearing regions adapt to the decreased information flow from the malfunctioning inner ear cells and actually re-arrange themselves.
Tinnitus is a serious problem for some, while others seem like they’re able to ignore it. This is because the brain’s emotional activity centers show increased activity in those with tinnitus. A person’s emotional “fight or flight” reaction to tinnitus ultimately dictates how they respond and how troublesome they find it to be.
We Can Help Relieve Your Tinnitus Symptoms
At Harbor Audiology, we provide patients in the greater Puget Sound with effective management techniques that make living with this condition much easier. First, we’ll conduct an assessment of your condition to find the cause of your tinnitus. Sometimes, upon discovering the cause, we can treat it directly and the symptoms will disappear completely. In other cases, we use a combination of options to diminish your suffering, such as:
- Hearing aids – because tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss, the use of hearing aids can benefit by enhancing hearing and covering up (masking) the ringing sensation. Most hearing aids also have additional tinnitus support features. These can be discussed with your audiologist at any time during your hearing aid experience.
Tinnitus, while perceived in the ear, actually occurs in the brain. Tinnitus occurs when there has been some damage to the auditory system – either by noise, illness, mediation or head trauma. There is no cure for this condition. Statistics show that one in five people suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is also the leading service-connected disability that veterans return home with.
There are a variety of sounds and combinations of sounds that people perceive as tinnitus. It may be ringing, buzzing, white noise, crickets or bells. The onset and cause varies. Regardless of how it began and what it sounds like, tinnitus can range from a bothersome condition to a debilitating one, impacting not only the day–to–day lives of the individuals affected, but their families and loved ones as well.
If you or a loved one suffers from tinnitus, we can help! Schedule an appointment today at Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services to receive your hearing evaluation. We have six convenient locations, in Gig Harbor, Port Angeles, Sequim, Silverdale, Bainbridge and Tacoma, WA.