By Darby Jones
Maybe it came on suddenly or maybe it’s been there for a while. Either way, there it is: a ringing, hissing, clicking or roaring in your ears. But the room around you is silent.
This ringing is tinnitus. According to the National Institutes of Health, tinnitus may be a sign of other health problems, including allergies or high blood pressure. It’s not always clear what causes tinnitus, and the condition can either resolve itself quickly, or become permanent.
The truth about tinnitus
For those who have never experienced tinnitus, it may be difficult to grasp the severity of the condition. Imagine a sound that only you can hear. Now imagine that this sound has overtaken all other sounds and is the only sound you hear clearly. This is what life is like for a tinnitus sufferer.
It is important to note that tinnitus is not a type of hearing loss, but rather a symptom related to it. This ringing in the ears has many possible causes. According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus can be caused by age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis. It can be caused by exposure to loud noise, ear wax blockage, and stiffening of the ear bones. Tinnitus can be caused by Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorders, head or neck injuries, benign tumors, blood vessel disorders and certain medications.
One thing is certain: Tinnitus is common. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 45 million Americans have experienced some form of tinnitus. Roughly 20 million people have chronic tinnitus, and 2 million of those have extreme and debilitating cases.
According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), there are two types of tinnitus:
• Subjective tinnitus: Head or ear noises that are heard only by the patient. More than 99 percent of tinnitus cases will be subjective.
• Objective tinnitus: Head and ear noise that is audible to both the patient and other people. These sounds are caused by internal functions, such as blood flow. These cases are very rare.
According to the ATA, there is no scientifically validated cure for tinnitus, but treating the root cause or learning to manage the condition are the best options for tinnitus sufferers.
It is noted that tinnitus is often connected to some form of hearing loss, caused either by aging, long-term hearing damage, or acute trauma to the auditory system. In a survey of hearing care professionals, some 60 percent of respondents said their tinnitus patients found relief of the condition by using a hearing aid, and 22 percent found significant relief. The amplification that the hearing aid provides to external noises may also assist in masking the wearer’s tinnitus noise; a dual benefit. Several hearing aid brands today offer a tinnitus control or therapy program with the purpose of helping to ease distracting tinnitus noise, especially while in quiet. This can take away some of the frustration that accompanies tinnitus and improve communication.
Getting it checked out
Because tinnitus can be a symptom of other forms of hearing loss, as well as other health issues, it is important to see a professional for a diagnosis. A hearing care professional, such as those at Miracle-Ear’s 1,200 locations nationwide, conduct and evaluate hearing tests, offers counseling, and fits and tests hearing aids.
Miracle-Ear provides ongoing hearing aid care to those in need. They also provide various hearing aid services that include the following:
• Free office visits and follow-up care
• Face-to-face customer care
• Personalized programming
• Free hearing tests and otoscopic inspection
• Free hearing aid cleaning and adjustments
• A 30-day satisfaction guarantee on almost all hearing aids
• A 3-year warranty on almost all hearing solutions
• Free lifetime checkups
– To learn more about hearing health and to check yours, find a Miracle-Ear location near you and schedule a free hearing test.