Tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ears, is a common problem characterized by a patient hearing ringing or other noises that are not produced by external sources. Adults and children both are susceptible to tinnitus, with more than 50 million Americans experiencing tinnitus symptoms, according to the American Tinnitus Association. It is much more common in adults.
Tinnitus can be quite disruptive. The symptoms of tinnitus may include:
- Hissing or Whistling
Tinnitus may be present in one or both ears, may be high or low in
The causes of tinnitus are varied, and the otolaryngologists at York ENT will seek to determine the source of a patient’s ringing. These may include:
- Noise-induced or other sensorineural hearing loss
- Build-up of wax in the ear canal
- Ear injuries
- Circulatory disorders
- Adverse effects of medication
- Temporomandibular joint problems
- Sinus or ear infections
- Meniere’s disease
- Otosclerosis, an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear
- Slow-growing tumors of the auditory nerve
An otolaryngologist’s ability to successfully treat tinnitus depends upon its underlying source. Sometimes an overt cure is not possible. Symptoms may fluctuate in sound or intensity level. Medical intervention may resolve or at least improve tinnitus in certain settings.
Tinnitus that is continuous can be distracting and burdensome. In severe cases, tinnitus can cause psychological distress. A treatment plan to minimize the effects of the condition may include:
- Sound therapy: In sound therapy, environmental devices such as fans or quiet music produce sounds that help patients minimize tinnitus’ effects through background noise. For the patient who regularly experiences tinnitus, sound therapy can help the nervous system adapt to the condition.
- Hearing aids: For those who are hearing-impaired, a hearing aid may help improve tinnitus by picking up external sounds, thus masking the tinnitus.
- Vitamins and mineral supplements, along with biofeedback, can sometimes be of benefit.