What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a medical condition characterized by persistent ringing in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual. It has also been described as whistling, hissing, buzzing, or pulsing in the ear. These sounds may come and go, but for most tinnitus sufferers, the symptoms produce a constant, maddening drone. The effects range from slight annoyance to severe disruption of everyday life. The Canadian Hearing Society estimates that more than 10 percent of Canadian adults suffer from tinnitus.
What Causes Tinnitus?
There are a number of causes, with the most common being exposure to loud noise for a prolonged period of time. In this case, your hearing may be temporarily or permanently damaged, depending upon the severity of the sound.
We can’t always tell whether your temporary damage will become permanent, but tinnitus is usually representative of an inner-ear problem. Tinnitus research is ongoing, and the mechanisms that cause tinnitus in the brain and inner ear are being more closely studied. Some possible causes are:
In rare cases, tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel disorder, resulting in pulsatile tinnitus. This type of tinnitus may be caused by a head or neck tumor, a buildup of cholesterol in the circulatory system, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, or malformation of the capillaries surrounding the ear. The result is a tinnitus that sends out pulsing signals in conjunction with the flow of your heartbeat.
Is There a Cure for Tinnitus?
There is currently no cure for tinnitus. We will work with you to identify potential causes for your specific symptoms, and there may be a way to reduce the impact of tinnitus on your daily life. In some instances, changes to your diet or medications may help with your symptoms. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, can also help alleviate the constant ringing in your ears.
What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus?
Due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, York Hearing Clinic’s Hearing Instrument Specialist is experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis. After completing a hearing test, your professional may refer you to an otolaryngologist for further examination, if medical treatment is necessary.
In many cases, the distressing combination of tinnitus and hearing loss can be relieved with hearing aids. Specially engineered hearing aids are now available, and they can restore ambient sounds and help fill Sound Voids™ to eliminate the effects of tinnitus.