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Tinnitus - Ringing or Buzzing in the Ears

What's that ringing in your ears? Did you know that over 50 Million Americans are affected with ringing in the ears, called Tinnitus?

Many people experience TINNITUS (TIN-a-tus or Tin-EYE-tus) as a ringing in their head or ears however, tinnitus can take a variety of forms. You might experience it as a buzzing, humming, or whistling sound while another might describe it as the sensation of a roaring ocean.

In a dark room, the flame of a candle is very bright. However, in a well lit room, the brightness of the candle decreases. Though you can still see the flame in the bright room, it is much less noticeable and not as bright. Tinnitus is most noticeable when an individual is in a quieter environment. This may cause difficulty focusing on tasks or falling asleep. Numerous research studies show that many tinnitus patients with hearing loss experience total or partial tinnitus relief while wearing hearing aids. This relief may be attributed to hearing aids ability to improve communication difficulties caused by hearing loss but attributed to tinnitus, alleviate the stress associated with difficult listening situations, amplify ambient background sounds which in turn mask tinnitus, and stimulate impaired portions of the auditory system that have been deprived of sound.

What's important to know is that tinnitus is not a condition or disease. Instead, it's a symptom that is most commonly associated with hearing loss. Tinnitus and hearing loss are intimately related. Hearing loss may be the main cause of a person's tinnitus, while tinnitus can diminish a person's ability to hear. Since the two go hand in hand, it is important to understand their relationship and how each impacts the management and treatment of the other.

What Causes Tinnitus?

While there are many possible causes for tinnitus, including exposure to loud sounds, earwax blockage and reaction to medications, some can develop tinnitus for no obvious reason. Experts suspect that tinnitus is the brain trying to adapt to a loss of hair cells in the inner ear. Hair cells in the inner ear help transform the sound waves into electrical signals that then travel to the brain. The brain misinterprets the reduced signals from the ear, resulting in a perception of sound, or tinnitus.

What does tinnitus have to do with hearing loss? 

Tinnitus and hearing loss often co-exist. An estimated 90% of those affected by tinnitus experience some degree of hearing loss. Some people with tinnitus may think their trouble hearing is caused by tinnitus, when in fact it can be due to a hearing loss. The daily use of hearing aids are helpful for many people who have tinnitus. The better you hear, the less you may notice your tinnitus. With the use of hearing aids, your brain has other sounds to listen to, making your tinnitus less noticeable. 

Did you know? Tinnitus typically decreases when people wear hearing aids that are personally customized with a tinnitus treatment program.

What Should I Do if I Have Tinnitus?

If you suspect you may have tinnitus, the first step you should take is to meet with one of our experienced audiologists. Make an appointment for a complete evaluation of your ears and hearing. At Hearing Services of Delaware, our goal is to help you understand and gain control of your tinnitus rather than letting it take control over you. While there is no cure for tinnitus, having a better understanding of how to manage your tinnitus can help you feel and live better!