Trista Williams, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA
Audiology
DeFatta ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery
Altoona


What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tus) is the perception of ringing, roaring, or buzzing in the ears when no external sound is present. These phantom noises may vary in pitch and severity, may be consistent or intermittent, and may affect one ear or both. Tinnitus is a common problem that affects 1 in 5 individuals. In some cases, the ringing can be so severe that it interferes with your ability to concentrate or understand speech. Hearing loss can be an associated condition to tinnitus, however, tinnitus may be present with or without hearing loss.

Cause of Tinnitus?

There are many potential causes of tinnitus. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle, or inner ear. It can also be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerve or part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways). In many cases, an exact cause is never found, but the most common believed cause is exposure to loud sounds, which can damage the delicate sensory hair cells within the inner ear. Other contributing factors may include aging, stress, ear infections, excessive ear wax, high blood pressure, sensory nerve disorders, and certain medications, including excessive amounts of aspirin. It is also found that allergies and neck and jaw pain can also be contributing factors to tinnitus.

How can Tinnitus be managed?

The effects of tinnitus can often be minimized by a combination of counseling and/or sound stimulation. If you suspect you have tinnitus, the first step is to undergo a tinnitus and hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Tinnitus counseling with an experienced healthcare professional may help to improve chances of successfully managing your tinnitus and regain your quality of life.

Many people learn to ignore their tinnitus and are able to function in their daily lives without interference, but others may need the assistance of noise generators. For those individuals whose tinnitus is more bothersome, the introduction of external noise using electronic noise generators may help minimize the awareness of tinnitus. These devices may include: noise machines that produce white or environmental noise which are often effective when trying to fall asleep or concentrate, hearing aids which can help alleviate the tinnitus of those with hearing loss just by delivering amplification; or ear level masking devices that are worn specifically to mask out the tinnitus. Fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners in the bedroom may also help cover the internal ringing noise at night. The use of music containing speech or the TV is not recommended at night as it may hinder your ability to fall asleep.

Tinnitus may also be helped by avoiding the following, which can exacerbate the ringing in your ears:

  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • High Sodium Diet
  • Stress
  • Lack of Sleep

Questions?

If you have additional questions or wish to schedule an appointment regarding tinnitus or hearing loss, please contact DeFatta ENT Audiology Department at 715-828-2368.


Dr. Trista Williams, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA – DeFatta ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery
For information or to schedule an appointment:
715-828-2368 | defattaent.com