Tinnitus refers to “ringing in the ears” when no other sound is present. Tinnitus can sound like hissing, roaring, pulsing, whooshing, chirping, whistling, or clicking. Tinnitus Management Tinnitus can occur in one ear or both ears. Below are some commonly asked questions about tinnitus.
- Is tinnitus a common problem?
Yes. Almost everyone at one time or another has experienced brief periods of mild ringing or other sounds in the ear. Some people have more annoying and constant types of tinnitus. One third of all adults experience tinnitus at some time in their lives. About 10%–15% of adults have prolonged tinnitus requiring medical evaluation. The exact cause of tinnitus is often not known. One thing is certain: Tinnitus is not imaginary.
- What causes tinnitus?
Conditions that might cause tinnitus include:
o Hearing loss
o Ménière’s disease
o Loud noise exposure
o Migraine headaches
o Head injury
o Drugs or medicines that are toxic to hearing
o Too much wax in the ear
o Certain types of tumors
o Too much coffee
o Smoking cigarettes
- How is the cause of tinnitus diagnosed?
Tinnitus is a symptom of a problem. The first thing you should do is to try to find out the underlying cause. You should have a medical examination with special attention given to conditions associated with tinnitus. You should also receive a full hearing evaluation by an audiologist to see if hearing loss may be causing your tinnitus.
- How is tinnitus treated?
The most effective treatment for tinnitus is to eliminate the underlying cause. Tinnitus, in some cases, can be a symptom of a treatable medical condition. Unfortunately, in many cases, the cause of tinnitus cannot be identified, or medical or surgical treatment is not an option. In these cases, the tinnitus can still be managed using a variety of other methods. Be sure to discuss with your doctor any medical treatment options before considering tinnitus management.