Why Are My Ears Ringing? For the millions of individuals living with tinnitus, the question will often arise: why are my ears ringing? Although commo
Why Are My Ears Ringing?
For the millions of individuals living with tinnitus, the question will often arise: why are my ears ringing? Although common, this hearing problem is often misunderstood. Since the noises can only be heard by the person with tinnitus, it can be challenging to explain and relate to others. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are multiple treatment options that can help people manage their symptoms and live productive, happy lives.
Here, we’re taking a closer look at this common hearing problem. This article defines tinnitus, looks into common causes of tinnitus, and then reviews some of the treatment options for those experiencing this hearing issue. Hopefully, this information can serve as a first step to answer that question: why are my ears ringing?
WHAT IS TINNITUS?
In medical terminology, that incessant ringing or buzzing in your ears is known as tinnitus. This hearing problem affects millions of individuals and can range in severity. While for some this ringing noise may just be a minor annoyance, for others it can dramatically impede on the quality of your life—even leading to anxiety, depression, or insomnia.
Essentially, tinnitus is the perception of sound when there are no external stimuli present. These “phantom noises” are only heard by the individual with tinnitus and can range in severity. While there are many unique causes of tinnitus, certain habits and activities (like smoking, drinking alcohol, and stress) can make your tinnitus symptoms worse.
WHAT CAUSES TINNITUS?
Tinnitus can be a challenging problem to identify because there are so many unique causes. There is no one direct cause of this hearing problem. However, there are many common causes of tinnitus—ranging from ear wax blockage to illnesses like Lyme disease. This, in part, is why it’s so important to schedule a hearing test with an audiologist and receive a complete medical diagnosis. By first identifying the cause of your tinnitus, you can then determine the most effective treatment option.
Here are a few of the most common causes of tinnitus:
- Age-related hearing loss.
- Repeated exposure to loud noises.
- Lyme disease.
- Ear wax blockage.
- Ear bone changes.
- Muscle spasms in the ear.
- Blood vessel disorders.
- Acoustic neuroma.
- Meniere’s disease.
- Head or neck injuries.
- Certain medications (referred to as ototoxic drugs).
IS THERE A CURE FOR TINNITUS?
Currently, there is no medical cure for tinnitus—but this doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. There is no cure for tinnitus because it’s a symptom, not a medical condition, but doctors and audiologists have developed various treatment plans to help individuals manage and live with their tinnitus symptoms. Over time, many tinnitus patients may hardly even recognize the ringing sound in their ears.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR TINNITUS
Depending on the source and severity of your tinnitus, certain treatment plans may prove more effective than others. This is why receiving a professional diagnosis from your audiologist is such an important first step.
Here are some of the most common (and effective) methods for treating tinnitus:
1. Hearing aids.
Especially for those with age-related hearing loss, hearing aids can be an effective way to manage your tinnitus symptoms. While tinnitus doesn’t cause hearing loss, hearing loss can lead to tinnitus for many individuals. In fact, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), 90 percent of Americans with tinnitus also experience some form of hearing loss.
2. Ear wax removal.
This is why identifying the source of your tinnitus is so important. If your tinnitus symptoms are caused by ear wax blockage in the inner ear, an audiologist can perform a relatively simple procedure to flush out the excess ear wax. In most cases, this causes the “phantom noises” to go away. If ear wax accumulation becomes a chronic issue, doctors may prescribe certain medications to help reduce this build-up.
3. Changing your medication.
Known as ototoxic drugs, certain medications can actually damage your hearing and also cause tinnitus. If you believe your medication is causing hearing problems, consult your doctor. They may be able to switch your medication, which can immediately alleviate the tinnitus symptoms. However, you should never stop taking or change your medication without talking to your doctor.
4. White noise machines.
White noise machines can be effective at masking the symptoms of tinnitus, making it easier to ignore them and enjoy your daily activities or fall asleep at night. These machines produce a sound that is similar to static. The noise is soft enough to hardly be noticeable but present enough to mask the symptoms of tinnitus. You can even use an air conditioner or fan as your own white noise machine.
5. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT).
This is one of the more advanced tinnitus treatment options. Tinnitus retraining therapy combines sound masking and counseling to help you cope with the tinnitus symptoms and not notice the noise as much. This advanced technique uses a small device that works to mask the symptoms, and over time, many patients hardly even notice their tinnitus.
CONCLUSION – WHY ARE MY EARS RINGING?
If you hear a constant ringing or buzzing noise in your ears that no one else seems to notice, you may be experiencing tinnitus. This common hearing problem affects millions of individuals of all ages all over the world. Tinnitus can simply be a minor annoyance for some, but for others, it can seriously disrupt your day-to-day life, leading to anxiety, isolation, depression, or even insomnia.
There is no cure for tinnitus, but there is hope for managing and living with your tinnitus symptoms. Doctors and audiologists have developed various methods for treating tinnitus, including white noise machines, hearing aids, or tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), that aid in managing your symptoms and how you respond to that ringing in your ears. For many, these treatment options are effective.
If you’re living with tinnitus and want to know why my ears are ringing and what can be done about it, reach out to an audiologist today. There’s no reason to wait to return to a happy, productive life.