Who Is At Risk For Developing Tinnitus?

woman in minor distress

Tinnitus is a condition that causes ringing or other sounds in one or both ears. The noise can be heard at various pitches and sounds like it’s coming from inside the brain or around the surrounding environment, but it may not be audible to others because there are no external sources. If others hear a pulsating sound that sounds like a heartbeat, it should be examined since it might indicate a tumor or a blood vessel problem. Experts and researchers feel it indicates a more serious underlying health disease. 

It is understood that it does not exist without earlier harm to the auditory system; however, tinnitus itself is harmless. Tinnitus can be a short-term or long-term issue that can be managed by addressing the underlying cause. Only if the sound does not disappear is it considered a chronic condition. Although the situation is not an illness nor a risk, a medical assessment and a hearing evaluation may help you understand what is behind your tinnitus and how to best address it.

Causes

If left untreated, tinnitus as a symptom and the coexisting condition may affect a person’s hearing and lead to hearing loss. The ear is impacted by nerve impulses in the auditory pathways, where the brain picks up sound waves. If the nerve signals’ auditory pathways are disrupted, and sensory hair cells within the ear are injured in the cochlea, which is the inner ear, auditory issues may arise. Other underlying factors include overly loud noise exposure, advanced age, smoking, and general health concerns. Some in-depth or merely listed reasons that aren’t limited to what has been mentioned include:

  • Head and neck injuries: Impacts in the ear by disrupting nerve impulses in the auditory pathways, preventing the brain from picking up sound waves. 
  • Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • Medication: Ototoxic medicines, aspirin, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals, anticancer platinum-based drug therapy, ibuprofen, and antidepressants. It usually ceases when the few mentioned pharmaceuticals are no longer used or are reduced.  
  • Hearing loss: This can be brought on by aging and ear injury, such as exposure to overly loud noises. As previously stated, hypersensitivity is caused when nerve signals’ auditory pathways are disrupted, and sensory hair cells within the ear are injured.
  • Foreign objects or ear wax: The removal of the obstruction would normally relieve the symptoms created by tinnitus.
  • Meniere’s disease: It affects one ear and causes pressure or discomfort within the ear, as well as affecting the inner ear and causing tinnitus, which can lead to hearing loss.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ): This influences the jaw, which causes pain and discomfort. This might be due to damage in the immediate vicinity. A set of problems affect the surrounding muscles and the skull, which might be the source of the underlying issues. 

Treatments

Tinnitus relief can be obtained from a health care expert or a hearing specialist, who will assess the severity and provide the appropriate therapy. Treatments do not appear to be a one-size-fits-all approach because each person’s experience with the condition is unique. Treatments such as sound and behavioral therapy have been proven to be effective in decreasing the effects and responses that people may have to it. Treatments can take the form of:

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
  • Masking devices
  • Hearing aids
  • Reduction or removal of the medication
  • Earwax removal and medical care for ear infections
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Biofeedback 
  • Stress management
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Hearing protection

Hearing Aids

A hearing instrument specialist will perform tests to assess and evaluate the degree of tinnitus if a hearing aid is requested to alleviate its symptoms. Hearing aids can help with sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus as a hearing loss therapy. Hearing aids are available in many styles, as listed below:

  • In the ear (ITE): The hearing aid fills the inner ear and sits within the bowl of the ear. Ideal for individuals with mild-to-moderately severe hearing loss.
  • Behind the ear (BTE): Sits behind the ear and or on top of the outer ear. Sound is routed through a tube or receivers into the ear. It can be molded to the ear through a custom fit as a style option. Suitable for anyone with mild-to-profound hearing loss.
  • In the canal (ITC): This is a smaller form of the ITE hearing aid and fits within the bottom half of the outer bowl. Recommended for individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. 

If you want to learn more about hearing instrument specialists for your auditory needs, find out more from Hearing Science of The Foothills, Inc. at (818) 698-8056.