Ringing in the ears? Five facts about tinnitus

PEI: Five facts about tinnitusMany people have experienced a ringing sensation in their ears after sitting through a loud concert, which can be bothersome and reduce hearing for a short period of time. But, this sensation is not temporary for some. Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound when there is none present. Commonly, it’s described as a ringing in the ears, but it can also sound like a clicking, hissing or buzzing noise.

Tinnitus can affect one’s quality of life, according to Dr. Rebecca Blaha, tinnitus expert at The Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) of Salus University.

“Patients with tinnitus most often report difficulty falling or staying asleep,” she said. “Poor sleep leads to overall poor daily functioning. Patients also indicate feelings of depression and anxiety related to their tinnitus that reduce their enjoyment of many activities.”

To help others better understand tinnitus, we’re exploring five facts about this condition.
 
  1. Tinnitus is a common problem, affecting millions of Americans. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 15 percent of the general public (more than 50 million Americans) experience some form of tinnitus.
  2. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom indicating changes have occurred in your hearing. Tinnitus can develop because of exposure to loud sounds, age-related hearing loss, illness, medications, head injuries or a genetic predisposition (family history) of hearing loss.
  3. Certain occupations can increase your risk for developing tinnitus. Data from a National Health Interview Survey concluded that of those who were exposed to noise on the job, 22 percent developed tinnitus. Occupations in the manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, architecture and engineering industries had higher risks for developing tinnitus.
  4. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are management strategies available. Certain over-the-counter supplements and devices claim to “cure” tinnitus, but none have been proven effective by research or clinical trials. Sound therapy can help ease tinnitus noises and easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Many manufacturers make discreet devices allowing a low level of amplification, which can improve hearing and reduce your awareness of the tinnitus sounds. Certain tabletop devices can play white noise, ocean waves, musical chimes and other therapeutic sounds, which help reduce tinnitus sounds.             
  5. Tinnitus can be detected through an exam with an audiologist. Audiologists are experts at evaluating and treating hearing and balance disorders. After assessing your hearing abilities, an audiologist can determine the most effective treatment plan for you.
Doctors of Audiology at the Pennsylvania Ear Institute specialize in tinnitus evaluation and management. They will determine which management options fit your needs and lifestyle, ensuring you have a customized treatment plan. PEI offers educational counseling and sound therapy based on Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, Tinnitus Activities Treatment, and Progressive Tinnitus Management methods. 

“These are all well researched and clinically proven methods for effective tinnitus management,” Dr. Blaha said. “While tinnitus itself cannot be cured, these management options will help reduced the impact tinnitus has on daily life and reduce overall awareness of the sound for better sleep, better concentration, and increased enjoyment of daily activities.”

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