What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus (TIN-ni-tus) is a sound that a person hears inside their head that no one else hears. It is often described as locusts, ringing, rushing, pinging, humming, or swishing. Tinnitus is often caused by sensorineural hearing loss (“nerve deafness”), noise exposure, medications, ear infections, wax buildup, or some inner ear disorders such as Meniere’s Disease. Causes cannot always be determined, but it is important to know when to be concerned about your tinnitus.
Tell your physician or audiologist if you experience:
- Sudden onset of tinnitus in one or both ears
- Loud tinnitus in one ear, especially if it has changed recently
- Pulsatile tinnitus (a sound that has a steady rhythm)
- Tinnitus that is correlated with changes in hearing or balance (vertigo)
- Changes in medications that result in changes in tinnitus
Amplification may help
If your tinnitus is bothersome, it can help to focus on other sounds. Contrary to recent commercials, there is usually nothing that will cure tinnitus. If hearing loss is present, tinnitus can be helped with amplification.
See a professional
See your audiologist and/or physician to determine if your tinnitus is concerning and/or treatable. For severe cases that are accompanied by severe sensitivity to loud sounds, it might also be beneficial to visit a more specialized center specifically suited for tinnitus.