Frequently Asked Questions About Tinnitus

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Tinnitus is a common problem that many Americans face today. Research shows that around 15% of adults are affected by it. If you or a loved one is experiencing this medical condition, it is best to familiarize yourself with it to better understand what is happening and how you can address it with tinnitus treatment in Kentucky. Read on to learn more about some of the answers to some frequently asked questions about tinnitus.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is an auditory condition where one hears phantom sounds that have no external source. These are often described as ringing, buzzing, whistling, whooshing, or roaring noises. Some will hear the sound in one or both ears constantly, while others will experience it sporadically for certain periods of time.

What causes tinnitus?

This hearing condition does not occur on its own and is often caused by underlying health conditions. There are various reasons for developing tinnitus. Here are a few of them:

  • Noise damage: Exposure to an extremely loud noise can cause tinnitus. Loud noise can harm or even permanently damage the small hairs or cilia in the ear that help people perceive sound waves. When these are impaired, they can send random electrical signals to the brain, which it translates as random phantom sounds.
  • Excessive wax build-up: In some cases, the ear can produce excessive wax due to a number of different reasons. When the canal becomes somewhat obstructed by the earwax, pressure can build up in the ear and excite the cilia, sending signals to the brain that it interprets as random sounds.
  • Age-related hearing loss: As people age, many develop hearing loss. The inner structures of the ear deteriorate over time, along with their ability to perceive sound. This is often accompanied by tinnitus.
  • Medications: Some medicines are ototoxic, which means they can damage the ear and impair the ability to hear. This also comes with tinnitus. Other medicines are not ototoxic, but can still have tinnitus as a side effect. So, it is important to take note of any medications one is taking on the onset of tinnitus and consult with a doctor as these may be the cause of the phantom sounds. This type of tinnitus often goes away when the person stops taking the medicine.

What is the difference between objective and subjective tinnitus?

The two main types of this condition are subjective and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is the kind that only the patient can hear. It is often the type to occur randomly for various lengths of time.

Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, can also be heard by someone other than the patient. An audiologist or ENT doctor can observe the sound coming from the area of the ear with the proper tools.

How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus treatment in Kentucky is not the same for every patient. The method of treatment depends largely on the cause and type of tinnitus they are experiencing. Here are a few common methods used to treat tinnitus.

  • Sound-masking machines – These are machines that aim to drown out the tinnitus phantom sounds. They play a pleasant or gentle sound, such as ocean waves, white noise, or even music, at a level that is louder than the tinnitus sound. These devices range from ones that you can wear on your ear to ones that can you put somewhere in the room. Most stereo systems and speakers can also be used to play certain sounds that can drown out the symptoms of tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids – Since hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus, improving a person’s ability to hear often helps reduce the occurrence of phantom sounds. A hearing aid can amplify the sound in a person’s immediate environment and help them perceive it, depending on the severity of the hearing loss. Research shows that most people who have tinnitus that is related to hearing loss experience relief from its symptoms when wearing a hearing aid.
  • Earwax removal – Tinnitus that is caused by earwax build-up can be treated simply by the removal of the obstruction. The extraction of the blockage is often done by a health professional, as some obstructions can be lodged deep in the ear.

These are just some of the frequently asked questions about tinnitus. Contact your local hearing center for more information about this auditory condition.

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