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Tinnitus: Understanding the ringing sensation in your ears and available therapies

Often described as a ringing, buzzing or hissing sensation in the ears, tinnitus affects millions of people. Although it’s not a disease itself, tinnitus can be a symptom of other underlying issues. Understanding the causes and available therapies is important in dealing with tinnitus.

Tinnitus is characterized by the perception of sound in one or both ears such as a ringing or buzzing noise. Tinnitus is not caused by external sources and can vary in both intensity and frequency. Tinnitus can be continuous or intermittent, and is often more noticeable in quiet environments. Tinnitus is a subjective experience, meaning it is only heard by the person experiencing it, and differs for all those affected.

Tinnitus is associated with several underlying factors, including:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  • Earwax accumulation and obstruction
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Some antibiotics, diuretics and cancer drugs

The persistent noise of tinnitus can have a significant impact on quality of life. Tinnitus can lead to sleep disturbances, trouble focusing, anxiety, stress, irritability and social withdrawal. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are multiple therapies available to manage symptoms, such as:

  • Hearing aids to amplify external sounds, making tinnitus less noticeable
  • Sound masking through the use of noise machines
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to develop coping strategies and reduce the emotional impact of tinnitus
  • Medications to manage anxiety or depression associated with tinnitus
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy, a combination of counseling and sound therapy, to habituate the brain to tinnitus sounds

Tinnitus is a common and often distressing condition, but understanding its causes and available therapies can lead to relief through the creation of a tailored treatment plan. If you are suffering from tinnitus, call Biltmore ENT at (602) 560-1085.