Hearing loss is a very common problem in the U.S. In fact, about 15% of American adults report having some type of hearing problem, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
There are many different types of hearing loss and conditions that affect your hearing. These include age-related hearing loss, misophonia, hyperacusis, to name just a few. They also include tinnitus, which affects some 10 million Americans, the NIDCD reports.
Tinnitus is a condition in which you hear sounds or noises that aren’t produced by something in your environment.
If you’re wondering whether you have tinnitus, we’d like to help. Dr. Kevin Sharim and his team of audiologists and hearing specialists at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals take tinnitus seriously. We work with our patients to diagnose this condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to help reduce its impact on your life.
Here, Dr. Sharim and his team are happy to share some useful information about tinnitus with you.
Tinnitus is an unusual condition, in that it is perceived as a sound even though it is not produced by anything outside of you, as other sounds are.
With tinnitus, you hear one or more types of sounds, including:
- An electrical whirring sound
You may hear these sounds, which can be high or low in pitch, in one ear or both ears. The sounds may be constant, or they may come and go. They may be barely noticeable or so loud they interfere with your life.
Tinnitus may occur on its own, or it may accompany other hearing-related conditions, such as age-related hearing loss.
Causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus can have a wide variety of causes. In some cases, it can appear without an obvious trigger. However, some common causes include:
- Alcohol use
- Autoimmune disorders
- Certain types of medication or medical treatment
- Circulatory system disorders
- Conditions caused by or resulting in hormonal changes in the body
- Excess buildup of wax within the ear canals
- Exposure to loud noises
- Fluid buildup in your ears
- Head or neck injuries or disorders
- Health conditions that affect other parts of the body, such as the cardiovascular system
- Health conditions that affect the ears, such as eustachian tube dysfunction or muscle spasms within the ears
- High blood pressure
- Infections in the ears or sinuses
- Ménière’s disease
- Migraines and headaches
- Neurological conditions, such as brain tumors
- Nerve disorders
- Thyroid disorders
How do you know it’s tinnitus?
To determine whether you have tinnitus, your provider asks you about your symptoms and performs an examination of your ears and your hearing.
Your provider also talks with you about your overall health, any medical conditions you may have, and any medications (over-the-counter or prescription) that you take.
If your provider determines that you have tinnitus, they discuss the best ways to manage and/or treat it.
Treating and managing tinnitus
Sometimes, tinnitus can be cleared up with a simple fix, such as clearing away excess earwax or making medication changes. In many cases, if a drug you take contributes to tinnitus, the provider who prescribes the drug can swap it with a different drug.
If necessary, your provider here at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals will refer you for further testing or for evaluation by other specialists, such as a cardiologist.
As for treating tinnitus, the strategy depends on several factors, such as the cause and severity of your condition. Sometimes, medication can help. If you also have hearing loss, hearing aids may improve your hearing and address your tinnitus.
Your audiologist may also recommend a specialized hearing aid that creates a low-level white noise to mask your tinnitus. This specialized hearing aid is known as a tinnitus masker.
We provide a wide variety of hearing aids; different types and brands have different strengths, and we work closely with you to find the device that is best suited to your needs.
Have your hearing evaluated soon
If you think you have tinnitus or any other hearing-related condition, don’t wait any longer to schedule an evaluation. The sooner you know the extent of your hearing condition, the sooner you can start taking steps to improve your hearing health and your quality of life.
Make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Sharim and our team at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals by contacting one of our offices, which are conveniently located in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, and Santa Monica, California.