It’s not unusual to occasionally experience a ringing in your ears, especially after being exposed to a loud noise or during a bad ear infection. While the noise is irritating and inconvenient, it eventually subsides. 

But imagine what your life would be like if it didn’t.

For more than 50 million Americans, this is the reality of living with chronic tinnitus. One in five of those affected has symptoms severe enough to cause extensive stress and devastate his or her quality of life, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

Thankfully, if you have this condition, there are several treatments available, and hearing aids are often one of the most effective solutions.

What is tinnitus?

It’s important to remember that tinnitus itself is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying problem.

Tinnitus is a constant noise in the ears, which can range from a high-pitched ringing to a low roar. This sound occurs when there is no external source – meaning no one else can hear the noise. While some forms of tinnitus are acute and only last temporarily, other chronic (ongoing) cases require treatment.

If you’d like an example of what tinnitus sounds like, listen to this sample on the website for the American Tinnitus Association.

There are several types of tinnitus, but the most common is primary tinnitus which is usually caused by hearing loss.

Secondary tinnitus is associated with other causes, such as structural problems with the ear.

Only your local ENT doctor can determine which type you have and create an effective treatment plan.

What are the common treatments for tinnitus?

Treatment depends upon the underlying cause. Often, a simple solution is available. For example, if your tinnitus is caused by an ear infection, treating the infection will likely cure your tinnitus as well.

Hearing loss is the most common cause of tinnitus. The hearing system consists of tiny, intricate bones in the inner ear. When something is wrong with these bones, it can cause consistent ringing.  

Tinnitus can also be caused by:

  • Certain medications
  • Excessive ear wax that is touching the ear drum
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Structural problems with the outer ear which may require reconstructive surgery
  • Damage to the tiny hairs of the inner ear.

Can a hearing aid cure my tinnitus?

If your tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, then a hearing aid will not only improve your hearing, but it will likely relieve your tinnitus as well.

Some hearing aids come with a built-in “masker.” This means the hearing aid can produce “white noise” that distracts you from the sounds from tinnitus.  This can improve your condition and help you function better in your daily life. If your tinnitus is not caused by hearing loss, you can simply purchase a tinnitus masker by itself, which may provide relief. To completely resolve your problem, it’s important to seek treatment from one of our physicians at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat and one of our certified audiologists.

Remember: hearing aid dispensers will not be able to provide the level of expertise needed to help you. It’s important to know the difference between audiologists and hearing aid dispensers in order to get the assistance you need.

Tinnitus information your ear, nose and throat doctor will want to know

In order for your ENT doctor and certified audiologist to better serve you, be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Tell your doctor which ear is involved or if both are causing problems.

  • Be able to describe the type of sound. Is it low- or high-pitched? Is it more of a roaring or swooshing sound?
  • Have you noticed that the noise changes volume or pitch? Make a notation of this and share it with your doctor.
  • Keep a journal and make notes to see if there is anything you’re eating or drinking that is making the sound worse.
  • Be prepared to give your doctor a list of all medications and herbal remedies you’re taking.
  • Explain how this condition has affected your everyday life. For example, is it worse during the day when you’re trying to work, or are the problems more noticeable at night?

ENTs are uniquely qualified to treat tinnitus

Our experts at Raleigh Capitol ENT have decades of experience in helping patients with tinnitus get their lives back. Because tinnitus is always a symptom of an underlying problem, a thorough ear examination is vital. Let our doctors create a plan tailored for you. If you do need a hearing aid, our experienced audiologists are dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care.

 

Would you like more information on tinnitus? Following is some information you’ll find useful:

Solutions for Tinnitus

 

Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area's premiere physician-owned ENT practice with six convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.

 

Sources:

American Academy of Otolaryngology. “Tinnitus.” Online. 

American Hearing Research Foundation. “Tinnitus.”

American Speech-Language Hearing Association. “Tinnitus.” Online.