Are you bothered by noises in one or both ears? Do you experience clicking, buzzing, ringing, or hissing sounds that disrupt your thinking and interrupt your daily life? Are you concerned that you may have tinnitus? All of your questions and concerns can be addressed during a comprehensive tinnitus evaluation at Advanced Diagnostics and Hearing Solutions (ADHS), located in Brandon, Florida.
Dr. Lisa Tanner, licensed audiologist here at ADHS, believes that thorough, accurate evaluations are essential in order to provide the best treatment options for your unique hearing needs.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the awareness or perception of sounds within the ear, although no actual external sound is present. It is estimated that fifty million Americans experience symptoms of tinnitus.
Generally, these extra sounds are only heard by the individual. In rare instances, your doctor will hear audible noises during an examination.
Signs and Symptoms of Tinnitus
Often, tinnitus is referred to as “ringing in the ears.” Other sounds you may experience include:
Sounds may be high or low in pitch, with varying degrees of intensity. Some individuals may experience mild symptoms that come and go on occasion. Others may suffer from loud, constant, debilitating symptoms that negatively impact activities of daily life. Also, one or both ears may be affected.
What Causes Tinnitus?
The exact cause of tinnitus may be difficult to determine. In some instances, tinnitus is caused by another underlying medical condition. Often, these phantom noises are associated with damage to the tiny hairs deep within the inner ear, known as cilia.
Damage to the Cilia may be caused by:
- Age-related changes
- Long-term exposure to loud noises
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics, antidepressants, diuretics, aspirin, and others
- Head trauma, or injury to the ear itself
Other causes may include:
- Earwax build-up
- Blockage of the ear canal or Eustachian tube
- Bone conduction problems within the ear
- Muscular contractions in or near the ear
- Disturbances to the nerve pathways connecting the ear to the brain
Other medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease or Otosclerosis may cause a person to experience tinnitus. Heart disease, high blood pressure, aneurysms, and tumors may also be the culprit.
Side Effects of Tinnitus
Tinnitus may range from mildly annoying to profoundly disturbing. Prolonged, severe tinnitus may cause fatigue, stress, and sleep problems. Trouble concentrating and memory problems may result in interrupted thought patterns.
Feelings of depression, anxiety, and irritability can also occur.
Can I Be Tested For Tinnitus?
If you suspect you have tinnitus, it’s important to get evaluated by a professional. Here at ADHS, Dr. Tanner offers specialized tinnitus evaluations to help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms.
During a tinnitus evaluation, you will be asked several questions about the noises you experience:
- How long have you experienced these sounds?
- Are they loud or muffled?
- Are they constant or do they come and go?
- Do you experience noises in one or both ears?
- Does anything make your symptoms worse?
- What makes them better?
- How much do your symptoms disrupt your daily life?
These questions will help determine the root cause of your tinnitus. A detailed hearing assessment will also be conducted to rule out hearing loss as a possible explanation.
You may be asked to close your eyes, clench your jaw, or move your neck. In some instances, tinnitus will either improve or worsen with these movements.
Your past medical history, past work history, and any medications you are currently taking will all be considered.
Finally, imaging studies such as CT scans or MRIs may be performed if necessary.
Treatment Options for Tinnitus
Currently, there is no known cure for tinnitus. Tinnitus, like some back pain, is managed not cured. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help. In some cases, tinnitus can be reduced or even eliminated by addressing the underlying cause. This may involve changing medications, removing earwax buildup, or working to improve cardiovascular conditions.
In other instances, coping strategies, masking devices, sound therapy, and counseling are more appropriate. Hearing aids will be helpful if your tinnitus is caused by hearing loss.
- Masking the sounds by introducing “white noise” into a room, with the use of fans, soft music, or sound machines
- Maintaining healthy stress levels
- Avoiding situations that could worsen symptoms, such as factories and loud concerts
- Abstaining from substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, which can also increase symptoms
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Hearing loss and tinnitus are often related. The majority of people with tinnitus will have some form of hearing loss, usually because of chronic exposure to loud noises.
Because of this, a comprehensive hearing examination is a critical part of the tinnitus evaluation. Using hearing aids to correct your hearing loss will likely reduce or even eliminate your symptoms.
Schedule a Diagnostic Tinnitus Evaluation
If you have questions or concerns about tinnitus, call our office today to schedule a diagnostic tinnitus evaluation. Dr. Tanner is highly committed to providing you with competent, professional care.
Here at Advanced Diagnostics and Hearing Solutions, we will strive to answer your questions, address your concerns, and equip you with the tools needed to make educated decisions about your unique hearing needs.