Ever experienced a ringing in your ears that won’t go away? Then you might have had a case of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a sensation wherein you hear a ringing, buzzing, whistling, hissing, humming, or pulsating sound even when there’s no external sound input. Other people than yourself won’t be able to hear it. Don’t panic though, because it’s a much more common occurrence than you think.
According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus affects 15% to 20% of people in the world. The sound you hear can vary from a mere whisper to a louder, more disturbing squealing sound. Tinnitus can come and go, or it can be a persistent noise. If it becomes anything more than an occasional annoyance, contact your doctor to help get it treated.
Knowing how to avoid and treat tinnitus is just a matter of knowing what causes or worsens your tinnitus. Tinnitus is most commonly caused by the following:
#1 – Wax Buildup
Blockages in your ear canal such as ear wax, dirt, water, or other foreign materials can affect your hearing. These blockages can change the pressure in your ear and cause tinnitus. Rather than using a cotton bud, it’s best to use a cerumen spoon to safely remove blockages without pushing the wax in further.
#2 – Prolonged Exposure to Loud Sounds
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is prolonged exposure to loud sounds. People whose jobs put them at risk like DJs, rock musicians, sound technicians, builders, street repair workers, and pilots often suffer from tinnitus. Loud sounds can either temporarily or permanently damage the hair cells on your ears. When these hairs are damaged, they can send random sound signals to your brain which causes the ringing or hissing noise that you hear.
Left unprevented and untreated, constant exposure to blaring noises can lead to hearing loss. Avoid or dampen further exposure to these noises by using protectors such as earplugs or earmuffs. For music enthusiasts, know how loud is too loud and enjoy sound responsibly.
#3 – An Ear Infection
An ear infection causes a fluid buildup in your middle ear that can trigger tinnitus. This often happens as a consequence of a cold, throat infection, or allergy attack. When the underlying cause has been treated, the tinnitus should also go away in a few days.
#4 – Head and Neck Injuries
Because it’s all connected, a head or neck injury can also affect your hearing. Normally, tinnitus caused by these kinds of injuries is only present in one ear. If injury-caused tinnitus affects your quality of life, consider consulting with a professional for tinnitus management. At Hearing and Audiology Services, we can help create a treatment plan to make living with tinnitus bearable.
#5 – Medications
Certain drugs can have tinnitus as a side effect. These include aspirins, antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, certain cancer drugs, and loop diuretics among others. If they are truly the culprit, the tinnitus should cease once you stop taking these medications. If you are taking any of these as a maintenance drug and the tinnitus becomes unbearable, consider consulting with your doctor to prescribe a different drug.
#6 – Natural Aging
As we age, the cochlea which is a spiral cavity in the inner ear involved in hearing also starts to deteriorate. This is why tinnitus is fairly common in seniors. Unfortunately, there is no real cure for tinnitus caused by ageing. If it impacts your quality of life, using a hearing aid can help mask the ringing sound by increasing your ability to hear external sounds around you.
While other people can learn to live with their tinnitus, it affects every person differently. We understand that living with a constant ringing sound can be frustrating, and can cause insomnia, stress, and anxiety. When your tinnitus impacts your way of life negatively, we can help you manage the condition with an individualized treatment plan. Call us at 417 680 0172 or visit our website to request an appointment now.