Could that ringing in your ear be caused by tinnitus? Mount Airy, NC, otolaryngologist Dr. M. Barry Ellis of Mount Airy ENT Head & Neck Audiology shares common signs of tinnitus and discusses causes and treatment options.
What types of sounds will I hear if I have Tinnitus?
Although ringing in the ear is the symptom most commonly associated with tinnitus, you may hear other sounds, such as roaring, swooshing, hissing, whistling, buzzing or clicking. Some people even report hearing music that never stops. Most people have subjective tinnitus, the form that occurs when only you can hear the sounds. If you have objective tinnitus, your doctor may also hear the same sounds you do. Objective tinnitus is uncommon and can be caused by problems with your middle ear bones or your blood vessels.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:
- Loud Noises: If you regularly spend hours in a noisy environment, you may be more likely to develop tinnitus. Loud concerts and workplaces aren't the only causes of tinnitus, however. If you enjoy listening to loud music through headphones attached to a smartphone or an iPod, your risk may also increase.
- Your Age and Sex: Like many conditions, advancing age can be a factor in tinnitus. Your sex also plays a role. If you're male, you are more likely to develop tinnitus.
- Too Much Earwax: When earwax pushes against your eardrum, ringing may occur.
- Blood Vessel Conditions: High blood pressure, hardening of the arteries or conditions that cause the arteries and veins in your neck to narrow can cause tinnitus symptoms.
- Otosclerosis: Tinnitus can occur when the bones in your middle ear become stiff due to otosclerosis.
- Conditions, Diseases, and Injuries: Certain conditions and diseases, such as Meniere's disease, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) or tumors can cause symptoms. If an injury to your head or neck affects nerves involved in hearing, you may also hear the noises.
- Medications: Medications that can cause the annoying sounds include cancer medications, antidepressants, antibiotics, and diuretics.
How is tinnitus treated?
Tinnitus treatment options depend on the cause. If impacted earwax is the problem, we can remove the excess wax in just a few minutes in our Mount Airy office. Treating high blood pressure or other vascular problems can help decrease sounds caused by blood vessel issues. Trying a new type of medication or using white noise machines or in-ear masking devices can be helpful. Surgery may be needed if the problem is caused by a tumor.
Do you crave peace and quiet? Visit Mount Airy, NC, otolaryngologist Dr. M. Barry Ellis of Mount Airy ENT Head & Neck Audiology to discuss tinnitus treatment options. Make an appointment by calling (336) 673-3125 or (336) 838-7758.