Tinnitus Treatment Options

What is that ringing in your ears and what can you do about it?

Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ear when the sound is absent externally.  Tinnitus can be different for everyone.  It may be perceived as a ringing, buzzing or roaring sound.  Some people describe it as sounding like crickets chirping or ocean waves rolling.  It may be loud for some people and faint for others while still others will say that it comes and goes.  Some people notice it all day long while others say they only notice it in quiet environments.  You may experience tinnitus in one ear or both ears.  Typically, your tinnitus is something only you can hear. 

Tinnitus can be caused by many things and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, such as hearing loss.

Common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Earwax buildup or blockages
  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
  • Medication
  • Aging
  • Vascular disorders
  • Stress or depression

If you are experiencing tinnitus, it is important that you receive a diagnostic audiologic evaluation.  A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear hair cell damage (hearing loss) so it is important to check your hearing ability to look for the presence of hearing loss, to determine the type and severity of the loss and to establish whether the hearing in the ears is symmetric.  We will also ask questions about your medical history to determine what (if any) other factors may be contributing to the tinnitus you are experiencing.

Tinnitus is different for everyone, but people with tinnitus may also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating

Once we have talked about your tinnitus and how it is effecting you and performed your diagnostic hearing evaluation, we will talk to you about what options are available to help you with your tinnitus.  Hearing aids can often be beneficial in helping people manage their tinnitus through the use of amplification (when needed) and tinnitus masking or sound therapy options that are available in many hearing aids.  Appropriate referrals will be made to your physician when appropriate.