What is Tinnitus and How is it Treated?
Tinnitus is often described as a ringing sensation in the ear. Actually trying to describe it can be difficult because everyone experiences it in a different way. While a “ringing” sound is the most common way to explain it, some people would also attribute it to whooshing, hissing, whistling or even buzzing. Regardless of how one chooses to describe tinnitus, the effects are usually the same.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus itself is often caused by hearing loss or other conditions that are related to damage in the ear. For instance, exposing yourself to loud noises could cause tinnitus, but neck and head injuries can also lead to tinnitus. There are also times where it can be related to a serious underlying medical condition. In some cases, people might even associate their tinnitus with music or singing.
Tinnitus can also be caused by a buildup of earwax. For instance, if someone is prone to using cotton swabs on their ear, then it could push earwax back into the canal and cause a buildup, leading to impacted earwax and also tinnitus. In addition, conditions like an inner or middle ear infection could also lead to tinnitus.
Is tinnitus a serious problem?
Although possible, tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. For most people, tinnitus comes and goes because their ears automatically adjust to it, but for others, it can become a life-long problem that doesn’t have an immediate solution. Tinnitus can become problematic once it has a significant impact on your life. For instance, if it causes you stress or if it distracts you from the noises around you.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
There are no cures for tinnitus. It’s usually treated by identifying the underlying cause and finding ways to overcome it. If the underlying problem can’t be cured or identified, then there are ways to manage it such as wearing hearing aids that are recommended to you by an audiologist. However, your tinnitus will typically improve over time as your body adjusts to it and often requires no intervention.
Can tinnitus be managed?
Managing tinnitus is perhaps one of the most common ways to deal with the condition. This is often done with a combination of sound therapy, counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT aims to help change the way you think about your tinnitus in order to make it less noticeable to you. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is another type of therapy that helps to retrain the way your brain reacts to the tinnitus.
However, these types of therapy are only used if the underlying condition cannot be found or managed. In most cases, managing tinnitus will involve finding the root cause and dealing with that, but if the cause cannot be found then the next best solution is to focus on managing it with therapy.
While tinnitus can be a frustrating condition to deal with, it’s important to remember that there are many ways to deal with it if you speak to the right audiologist.