What exactly is tinnitus? Tinnitus is a perceived noise or ringing sound in the ears. Sometimes, hearing loss may be due to tinnitus. The noise generally presents itself as a buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, or humming instead. It can also vary in pitch and volume and can affect either one or both ears. It may be present all the time, or it may come and go.  

This is a common problem that affects between 15 and 20 percent of people. Tinnitus itself isn’t a condition; it is only a symptom of a larger problem. It can be indicative of age-related hearing loss, a circulatory system disorder, or an ear injury.

Even though it can be an annoying inconvenience, it doesn’t always mean there is something larger wrong. Sometimes it can get worse with age, but it can improve with proper treatment.

How to manage tinnitus

Sometimes the treatment is identifying the underlying issue and resolving it. Other treatments may reduce or mask the noise to simply make it less noticeable.

If you have tinnitus that is becoming more problematic, you may need to make an appointment with a hearing instrument specialist. You should especially seek out help if you develop tinnitus after an upper respiratory infection, and it doesn’t improve within a week. You should also make an appointment if the tinnitus occurs suddenly without an apparent cause or you have dizziness or hearing loss accompanying it.

There are many courses of action to take, depending on the reasons behind the tinnitus. Removing earwax from the ear canal can decrease tinnitus symptoms. If the cause is a vascular condition, then it may be treated with medication or surgery. Sometimes tinnitus can be a side effect of a current medication, so changing medication or reducing the dosage can cure the tinnitus.

Noise suppression may also be an appropriate course of action if other routes do not help. White noise machines that produce sounds like falling rain or ocean waves may help suppress the symptoms of tinnitus. This can especially help you sleep at night. This can also be achieved with fans, humidifiers, or air conditioners.

Hearing aids may also be used to help correct for tinnitus and can be especially useful if you also have hearing loss. A masking device may be used if you do not need to correct for hearing loss. It sits in the ear similar to a hearing aid but just emits a continuous stream of very quiet white noise to counteract the tinnitus.

There is also a process called tinnitus retraining that may be helpful to some people. In this process, a device is worn that delivers a customized musical tone that matches the frequency of the tinnitus symptoms. Doing this over a long period of time will acclimate you to the sound, so you don’t recognize it as much.

In some instances, drugs may help to reduce the severity of the symptoms of tinnitus though it cannot cure it entirely.

The professionals at Stanwood Hearing are dedicated to helping you navigate through your hearing loss or tinnitus. We would love to schedule an appointment and answer any questions you have concerning your hearing. You can make an appointment by calling 360-502-4644.