Do you hear buzzing, humming or ringing in the ears? You’re not alone. Nearly 50 million Americans, or 10 to 15 percent of all adults, have tinnitus—the name for this frustrating, yet common hearing sensation.
Derived from the Latin word for “ringing,” tinnitus refers to the sensation of perceiving sounds that have no external source—in other words, hearing sounds that are not there. Common sounds include ringing, roaring, humming and buzzing.
While most people experience moments or brief periods of hearing ringing in the ears at some time in their lives (usually after extended exposure to a noisy environment or following a sudden, extremely loud sound), some people experience tinnitus more regularly.
Tinnitus is not a condition itself. Usually, it’s a symptom of another condition, which means it’s important to first identify the underlying cause. Some causes, such as excess earwax buildup, hypertension and stress, anemia, or overconsumption of caffeine or cigarettes, can be treated or eliminated relatively easily.
Consistent prolonged exposure to loud noise (as in noisy work environments like factories or construction sites) can increase your risk of tinnitus. Similarly, the risk of experiencing tinnitus increases as we age, and is more common in men than women.
There are some rare but serious health issues which can cause ringing in the ears, as well as some medications. Be sure to consult your doctor if you suddenly start to experience tinnitus.
Most of the time, tinnitus is a symptom of a larger hearing health condition. In fact, 90 percent of people with tinnitus also have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)—though they may not even be aware of it. Hearing loss changes how the brain processes sound, and tinnitus projecting the sensation of ringing into the ears may be how the brain fills in the gaps to the missing sound frequencies.
While there’s no cure for tinnitus, Miracle-Ear hearing aids are equipped to give you lasting treatment and relief. Tinnitus treatment options include Sound Therapy, which uses soothing audio to mask the tinnitus sound, and Notch Therapy, which teaches the brain over time to ignore the tinnitus sound.
Make sure to wear hearing protection at concerts and other loud places, turn down the volume when you're wearing headphones, and be aware of your cardiovascular health, as tinnitus can be linked to blood vessel disorders. If you're one of the many American's who regularly deals with ringing in the ears, book an appointment with our hearing specialists to learn if tinnitus is to blame and whether our hearing aids can help you.