Why Do Your Ears Ring?
Ever experience a ringing in your ears in a perfectly quiet setting?
That’s a sign of tinnitus, a hearing problem that affects an estimated one in five people in Hilton Head and across the U.S. Tinnitus varies greatly between individuals; for some it is an occasional nuisance, while others find it a constant distraction that wreaks havoc with their daily lives.
Understanding what causes it can help you manage the symptoms and find relief.
Tinnitus is a Symptom, Not a Disease
Many people think of tinnitus as a medical condition, but according to audiologists in Hilton Head, it is actually a symptom rather than a disease.
That ringing in your ears is the result of damaged sensory hair cells in the cochlea that are essentially “misfiring.”
A high-pitched ringing sensation is most commonly reported, but others experience roaring, buzzing, whooshing, humming, clicking, whistling or other sounds.
The effects of tinnitus are unique to each individual; those with the worst cases experience symptoms so severe they;
- Interfere with Sleep,
- Lead to Hearing Loss
- Concentration Difficulties,
- Curtail Social Activities
and can cause
Factors That Cause Tinnitus
The list of factors that can cause tinnitus is extensive.
Age-related hearing loss and noise exposure are most common; other contributors include ear and sinus infections, excess earwax, otosclerosis (stiffening of the bones in your middle ear), inner ear disorders such as Meniere’s disease, head and neck injuries, TMJ disorders, benign tumors known as acoustic neuromas, blood vessel disorders and even certain medications such as antibiotics, diuretics and chemotherapy drugs.
Sometimes, your Hilton Head audiologist isn’t able to determine an exact cause.
Despite stereotypes to the contrary, not all tinnitus patients are old.
A 2016 Scientific Reports study found that nearly 30 percent of adolescents experience chronic tinnitus, most likely due to noise exposure brought on by listening to loud music or failing to adequately protect their hearing during noisy activities such as sporting events.
Coping Strategies to Manage Tinnitus
There is no cure for tinnitus; once you have it, the best you can do is learn coping strategies that will help you manage its symptoms.
Masking techniques (white noise therapy and tinnitus retraining therapy) help your brain focus on sounds other than the ringing in your ears so it doesn’t prove to be such a distraction.
Other solutions include relaxation exercises, counseling, lifestyle changes (reducing sodium and caffeine intake, giving up cigarettes), antidepressants and switching up medications.
Naturally, prevention is best.
Your Hilton Head audiologist recommends wearing hearing protection whenever you participate in noisy activities, keeping the volume at a reasonable level when listening to music through headphones or earbuds and making regular hearing screenings a part of your medical routine.
Related Hearing Loss Posts:
- Seasonal Allergies May Affect Hearing Loss
- Hearing Loss in Children
- Break Out the Floss to Prevent Hearing Loss
Other Hilton Head Audiologists Office Locations
1231 Ribaut Rd
Beaufort, SC 29902
10 Arley Way, Suite 101
Bluffton, SC 29910