I hear a noise in my ears but it doesn’t sound like ringing. Is it tinnitus?
Tinnitus typically manifests as a ringing in the ears but patients report hearing many other sounds as well. Buzzing, whistling, whooshing, roaring, sizzling, hissing, clicking and chirping are all common. If you’re hearing any type of sound in your ears, you should visit an audiologist for further diagnostic testing.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a symptom rather than a condition and can be caused by a number of conditions. Unfortunately, the cause of a patient’s tinnitus is often never identified. Known causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, noise exposure, Meniere’s disease, head or neck injury, TMJ disorder, hypertension, stress, migraines, excessive earwax, ototoxic medications and acoustic neuromas.
If you can’t find a cause for my tinnitus, why should i get an assessment?
It’s important to see a doctor if you’re experiencing tinnitus as it can indicate a more serious health problem. Although we may not be able to find the cause, going through the process to ensure you’re not damaging your hearing with ototoxic medication or experiencing a health condition is a good idea. Additionally, an assessment can help us determine what treatment options will work for you.
Can other people or my audiologist hear my tinnitus?
In very rare cases, tinnitus is detectable to others. This is called objective tinnitus, which accounts for less than 1 percent of all cases. It’s much more likely that you’re suffering from subjective symptoms, meaning only you can hear the sounds. Through a tinnitus assessment, we can determine the volume and pitch of the sounds you are hearing.
I used to experience tinnitus every once and a while but it’s becoming more frequent. What should I do?
Tinnitus can worsen over time, especially when it’s caused by an underlying condition that remains untreated. We recommend that anyone experiencing tinnitus see an otologist or audiologist for a tinnitus test. Even if you don’t feel like you need treatment, it’s important to try to establish a cause.
What are the treatment options for tinnitus?
If the condition causing your tinnitus is treatable, addressing that underlying cause may eliminate tinnitus symptoms. In many cases, we aren’t able to cure tinnitus. There are many treatment options that help patients learn to manage their symptoms and even retrain the brain to ignore the annoying sound. Tinnitus retraining therapy and sound therapy programs have proven highly effective in symptom management.
Call San Francisco Audiology at (415) 362-2901 for more information or to schedule an appointment.