Tinnitus is a noise such as ringing or buzzing in the ears. It is a common and usually not very serious problem, but can become quite a nuisance to people who suffer from it. Almost 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. It is sometimes caused by an underlying condition and is most effectively treated by treating that condition.
The symptom of tinnitus is only the sensation of noises like ringing, buzzing, clicking, or hissing. The patient is the only one that hears these phantom noises. The noises can vary in volume from very soft to high-pitched and can occur in one or both ears. While the noises do not exist externally, the doctor can hear the noises during an examination in some rare cases. This is known as objective tinnitus and is a result of a broken vessel or inner ear bone condition. All other cases of tinnitus are referred to as subjective, in which only the patient can hear the noise.
Tinnitus is commonly caused by inner ear cell damage. Damage occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear are bent or broken and "leak" random impulses to your brain, causing you to hear these sounds. Other causes of tinnitus include age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, and earwax blockage. Stress, depression, and head or neck injuries can also lead to tinnitus. A complete audiological exam can help determine the cause of tinnitus.
Treatment of tinnitus depends on the cause of the problem. Some treatment options include earwax removal, a change in medication, hearing aids, white noise machines, or masking devices. Prescription medication can help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus. If you suffer from symptoms of tinnitus, talk to Dr. Brian Lee to discuss your treatment options.