Approximately 36 million Americans-about one out of every seven-complain of tinnitus or noise in the ears. Of this number, more than 7 million have severe symptoms that require medical attention. Tinnitus can be very stressful, sometimes exceeding a person’s ability to cope with the condition.
Tinnitus is often described as roaring, “crickets,” ringing or buzzing in the ears.
The most common causes of tinnitus are:
- Exposure to loud noises
- Medications, such as aspirin and other drugs that can damage the hearing nerve
- Excessive use of caffeine and alcohol
- Obstruction of the external ear canal
- Middle ear infections, abnormalities of the middle ear bones, a hole in the eardrum or
some inner ear diseases
- Growth pushing against the hearing nerve
- Systemic diseases, such as thyroid problems, diabetes or high blood pressure
Tinnitus can often be treated by eliminating the cause of the problem. This may involve removing an obstruction of the ear canal, repairing a hole in the eardrum, controlling an infection, removing excess fluids in the middle ear, eliminating aspirin and other medications or controlling high blood pressure.
If tinnitus is not due to any treatable cause, several steps can be taken to improve a person’s ability to cope with the condition:
- A hearing aid can often both improve hearing and mask tinnitus.
- Avoid loud noises.
- Avoid nicotine and stimulants, such as caffeine.
- Improve the diet, reduce salt and avoid hypoglycemia.
- Reduce anxiety and stress.
- Provide background noise, such as music from a radio.
- Participate in exercises and other activities.
An ear specialist should be consulted if tinnitus is limited to one ear or is associated with hearing loss or dizziness.
For additional information or to make an appointment, please contact River Cities Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, P.L.L.C. at (304) 522-8800 or (800) 955-3277.
Joseph B. Touma, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Touma Ear and Balance Center
1616 13th Avenue, Suite 100
Huntington, WV 25701
304.522.8800 or 800.955.3277