Tinnitus is described as an irritating buzzing, humming or ringing in the ears. What many don’t realize is that it is usually a symptom of a greater problem rather than a disease itself. The first step to tinnitus management is to diagnose the underlying issue.
Some common causes of tinnitus include impacted wax in the external ear, an infection, middle ear or nerve tumors, circulation disorders, noise-induced hearing loss of the inner ear, migraines and epilepsy. It is important to see an audiologist for tinnitus symptoms in order to identify or prevent hearing loss.
Tinnitus is impossible 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, if you can describe it, how loud does it seem, what conditions affect it or make it worse and how much it disrupts your daily life.
Usually tinnitus is merely an irritation, but it also can be a symptom or cause of hearing loss. Audiologists can work with other 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 regular 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 or white noise machines. Self-help groups are another option for those suffering from mild forms of tinnitus. They can provide resources and support to help people feel more in control. Your audiologist can help determine what treatment option is best for you.