Tinnitus is described as an irritating buzzing, humming or ringing in the ears. What many don’t realize is that it is may be a symptom of a greater problem rather than a disease itself. The first step to treating tinnitus is to diagnose the underlying issue.

Some common causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, an infection, middle ear or nerve tumors, circulation disorders, noise-induced hearing loss of the inner ear, migraines and medications. It is important to see a doctor for tinnitus symptoms in order to identify or prevent hearing loss.

Tinnitus is often difficult to evaluate objectively. The doctor will ask a series of questions such as which ear is experiencing the symptoms, whether or not it is constant or pulsatile, if you can describe it, how loud does it seem, what conditions affect it and how much it disrupts your daily life.

Tinnitus can be a symptom of hearing loss. Audiologists can work with ENT doctors to determine if a hearing aid is necessary. Hearing aids and tinnitus maskers can work together to both override tinnitus symptoms with more tolerable sounds and assist with improved hearing.

It is best to treat the underlying cause of tinnitus, but the cause cannot always be determined. This means there is not always a specific cure. Some alternative treatment options include hypnosis, counseling, relaxation therapy, biofeedback and tinnitus maskers, which are like hearing aids that produce white noise. Self-help groups are another option for those suffering from mild forms of tinnitus. They can provide resources and support for people to feel more in control. Your physician or audiologist can help determine what treatment option is best for you.