Hearing loss is one of the most common ailments in the US today. There are an estimated 49 million Americans dealing with hearing loss, which is three times the population of Illinois. With this condition being so prevalent, it’s easy to forget that other problems can stem from hearing loss.

The most common of which is tinnitus. This is a condition that causes ringing in the ears. It can also cause other sounds as well, such as hissing, whistling, and other unpleasant noises, that only the patient can hear.

While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to manage it so you can lead a hassle-free lifestyle and don’t miss out on the important things in life.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus usually stems from hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss, you have a 30% chance of getting tinnitus. This is why early detection and regular hearing assessments are crucial to keeping your hearing healthy.

There are two types of tinnitus:

Subjective – This is the most common among patients. This type of tinnitus causes a sound that only the patient can hear.

Objective – This type of tinnitus can be heard by your healthcare professional and is much rarer.

Experts believe the sound produced is created by your brain cells to increase the volume of sounds in the auditory part of your brain to offset the hearing loss. This would explain why most people with tinnitus also have some measure of hearing loss.

What Can Cause Tinnitus?

There are many known causes of tinnitus, but the most common of which is over-exposure to loud noises. This can happen anywhere, but it is usually found in a patient’s place of employment.

Loud factories or working with heavy machinery for extended periods of time can cause not only hearing loss but also tinnitus. This can also include mechanics who use loud tools or military personnel.

Another cause can be physically induced directly in the ear. If there is wax buildup, then this hinders the brain’s ability to decipher certain sounds and as such will induce tinnitus. Other fungus growth or any type of inflammation can also result in tinnitus.

There is also the matter of aging. As we get older, our nerve endings start to deteriorate. This makes it difficult for the brain to process sounds that it used to have no trouble with. This is again why we recommend regular check-ups through comprehensive hearing assessments.

Tinnitus form

How To Treat Tinnitus

While curing tinnitus completely is still unknown to medical professionals, there are still many treatments available to you. These treatments will lessen the effects of tinnitus and get you back to a normal hearing lifestyle.

No matter the type of tinnitus you or a loved one may have, we can treat it and manage it.

  • Reducing loud noises within your controlled environment is a great place to start. Coupled with technology and the advice of trained professional staff, tinnitus can be minimized.
  • Lifestyle changes seem to have an impact on improving the overall well-being of tinnitus patients as well. Whether it be getting more sleep or reducing stress, these methods have shown success.
  • Masking solutions can also provide relief to some by drowning out the constant ringing from tinnitus. Using a fan or opening the window to listen to street traffic can reduce the effects.
  • Investing in a sound machine that matches sounds to your environment may provide temporary relief.

Untreated Tinnitus

Tinnitus can grow exponentially. People can experience a mild form of tinnitus, which doesn’t significantly affect their quality of life.

However, others find the symptoms grow worse and never dissipate. Over time, this can lead to social and emotional issues, as the sensation affects their personal goals and relationships with others.

Cognitive issues can arise as well, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

What Are The Next Steps?

At Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, we provide professional hearing care for everyone in our community. This includes preventative treatment, diagnosis, and solutions to either restore hearing or manage it.

We bring together the very best hearing care professionals and support staff dedicated to providing you with an exceptional experience. We strive to provide the very best medical treatment and the very best patient experience.

If you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing tinnitus symptoms or generally struggling with hearing, then book a comprehensive hearing assessment here.

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David S. Hemmer, M.D.

Dr. Hemmer is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology. He received his doctor of medicine at the University of Illinois in 1974.