According to an article by Brande Plotnick, MS, MBA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at least 45 million Americans suffer from noises in the ears, or tinnitus. Nearly one-third of them find it so debilitating they seek medical attention for possible relief.
Tinnitus is the medical term that refers to the perception of sound in one or both ears when no sound is actually present in the environment. While there’s no proven cure for tinnitus, understanding the symptoms, causes and related illnesses, can help ease, manage or block out the ringing-in-the-ears sensation.
Symptoms of tinnitus: “Ringing” is the most common description of tinnitus; however, humming, buzzing, hissing or roaring can also be described. It can range from a low to a high pitch and may be soft or loud at times. Tinnitus seems to get louder at night when no other sounds are competing with it. Tinnitus can be constant or intermittent. In severe cases, the noise is loud enough to interfere with work or daily activity, whereas those with mild tinnitus can experience tinnitus that is no more than a minor annoyance.
Causes of Tinnitus
Age: Around the age of 60, hearing sensitivity can start getting worse and can be accompanied by tinnitus.
Loud noise exposure: Being exposed to loud noise, such as heavy equipment, chain saws, firearms and loud music can cause tinnitus.
Unhealthy habits: Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating certain foods and consuming caffeinated beverages can play a role in tinnitus.
Common ailments: Anemia, allergies, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, diabetes and an underactive thyroid gland are all medical conditions that can lead to tinnitus.
Treatment for tinnitus: People with tinnitus often view their suffering as a common part of everyday life they learn to cope with. Because many cases of tinnitus aren’t severe enough for medical treatment, some people turn to alternative therapies for finding relief. Many people find improving their overall health provides some comfort from tinnitus symptoms. This means controlling your blood pressure, reducing stress and decreasing caffeine consumption. Other tinnitus relief strategies include relaxation exercises, meditation and visualization.
Although there’s no proven cure for tinnitus, there are treatments that help make it easier to ignore. Tinnitus maskers, that give the brain a different sound to listen to, can ease the effects of tinnitus.
Getting help for tinnitus: If you have tinnitus, you might be feeling frustrated and helpless, but there is hope. The first step is to consult a doctor of audiology. If tinnitus is causing extreme feelings of depression, anxiety or suicide, contact a mental health professional.