Tinnitus: Common, Constant, Treatable, and Manageable
Do you hear a phantom ringing, whooshing, or buzzing noise — but no one else hears it? You’re not alone. It’s a common condition known as tinnitus.
For some people, tinnitus is a simple fact of life. For others, it’s a minor inconvenience. But for many, the condition is debilitating. Currently there is no cure. Thankfully, relief can come from a variety of treatments.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus usually indicates an inner ear problem, but the mechanisms involved in tinnitus aren’t clear. There are many things, however, that result in tinnitus, such as hearing loss. Your provider will most likely look for:
- Hearing loss
- Damage to your auditory system
- Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ)
- Chronic neck muscle strain
- Excessive noise exposure
- Certain medications
- Wax buildup
- Cardiovascular issues
Research is ongoing, and the mechanisms that create tinnitus in the brain and inner ear are being more closely studied all the time.
What Are the Different Types of Tinnitus?
This is the most common form of tinnitus, and exposure to excessive noise is often the culprit. The sound is only heard by the affected person. This type can appear and disappear suddenly. It can last a day or two, several weeks, months, or indefinitely.
This common type of tinnitus is usually a symptom of a disorder such as Meniere’s disease. These health problems affect the way your brain processes sound.
This type of tinnitus is related to movement and touch. Muscle spasms, a twist of the neck, and dental issues are all examples of somatic causes of tinnitus.
This is a rare form of tinnitus caused by the circulatory or musculoskeletal system. This is the only form of tinnitus that can be heard by others. If the cause can be treated, the tinnitus usually stops entirely.
- Musical tinnitus: This type is less common. It’s also called musical hallucinations or auditory imagery. Simple tones or layers of tones join to recreate a melody or composition. Musical tinnitus is more prevalent in those with long-term hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Pulsatile tinnitus: This is a rhythmic tinnitus that syncs up with the beat of your heart. It usually indicates a change of blood flow near your ear.
- Low-frequency tinnitus: Perhaps the most confusing type of tinnitus — those with this type can’t tell whether the sound is being produced internally or externally. Often, the tones correspond to the two lowest octaves on a piano and are described as a humming, murmuring, rumbling, or deep droning. This type of noise seems to affect people most strongly.
What Are Some Common Tinnitus Treatments?
There are numerous treatment options, but effectiveness varies depending upon the type of tinnitus. Your provider will usually help you manage your tinnitus with strategies to make it less bothersome.
No single approach works for everyone, and there is no FDA-approved drug treatment, supplement, or herb proven to be any more effective than a placebo.
Behavioral strategies and sound-generating devices offer the best treatment results. Some of the most effective methods are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Tinnitus-retraining therapy
- Hearing aids
Hearing loss is very often accompanied by tinnitus. In fact, some researchers believe subjective tinnitus can only happen in the presence of hearing damage.
Hearing aids do ease tinnitus symptoms, but they’re not the only method. That’s why it’s essential to see a professional with years of experience creating solutions for tinnitus sufferers.
If you or a loved one experiences tinnitus, contact us today. We’ll be able to help you determine the next steps toward relief.