Tinnitus

Tinnitus

Approximately 20% of California’s population suffers from tinnitus, a phantom noise in the ears that may be described as a ringing, hissing, roaring, whooshing, whistling, buzzing, or clicking sound. The tinnitus may be constant or intermittent, varies in pitch and volume and can be present in only one ear, or both.

Tinnitus can be a severe distraction that negatively impacts your quality of life. Tinnitus isn’t considered a disease, but rather, a symptom of an underlying condition. As such, there is no cure, but management strategies bring relief to many.

WHAT CAUSES TINNITUS?

It may be impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of tinnitus. A wide range of conditions can cause ringing in the ears. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Head/neck injuries
  • Impacted earwax
  • Meniere’s disease
  • TMJ disorders
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Stress
  • Hypertension
  • Migraines
  • Acoustic neuroma

Tinnitus is usually subjective in nature; that is, only the person experiencing it can hear it. Occasionally, another person – usually a doctor – is able to pick up the sounds, as well. This is known as objective tinnitus, and is rare.

TINNITUS RISKS AND TREATMENT

Tinnitus ManagementOlder individuals, males, smokers and those with cardiovascular problems are most at risk of developing tinnitus.

Tinnitus can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. It may lead to fatigue, depression, anxiety, memory loss, lack of concentration and irritability. While there is currently no cure for tinnitus itself, treating the underlying condition can bring relief. If not, there are several effective strategies for managing tinnitus. Noise suppression therapy trains the brain to ignore tinnitus by masking it with white noise. This can be achieved through the use of a special “white noise machine” or a simpler device such as a fan, air conditioner or humidifier. Tinnitus retraining devices utilize a similar concept, generating patterned tones that are meant to divert the brain’s attention from the annoying background sounds. Some people with tinnitus benefit from antidepressants or other medications.