What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ear. But every person who experiences tinnitus hears something unique to them — whistling, hissing, buzzing, pulsing, even a melody.
What they all have in common is they’re the only one who hears it.
For some, the sound comes and goes. For others, the sound is present 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And for many, it’s debilitating.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease — it’s a symptom. Usually, the sound is telling you there’s an underlying hearing issue caused by, for example:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Exposure to certain medications or chemicals
- Poor diet
- Head Trauma
- TMJ (a jaw joint disorder)
The hearing issue may be temporary or permanent, depending upon the cause and severity. Generated in the brain or inner ear, the true mechanisms that cause tinnitus are poorly understood.
What Are the Treatment Options for Tinnitus?
There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but there are ways to reduce its impact on your daily life.
Your symptoms are personal and unique, so your treatment plan will be, too. Treatment options include:
- Hearing Technology. The top treatment for those who also have hearing loss. It can improve hearing ability and reduce the perception of your specific tinnitus noise.
- Masking. A masker, which fits in the ear much like a hearing aid, produces low-level sounds to distract from the tinnitus noise. Bedside sound generators serve much the same purpose.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. A combination of sound therapy and counseling, the process alters the brain’s neural signals and weakens the perception of tinnitus, allowing you to live your daily life far more peacefully.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A type of counseling that helps to change the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus by altering negative thought patterns and helping to relieve stress.