Tinnitus

Understanding Tinnitus And How Hearing Aids Can Help

Affecting about 20 percent of Americans, tinnitus is a condition that can be described as ringing in the ears. This condition can happen in one or both ears, depending on what the underlying condition is. There are various causes of tinnitus, and treating the underlying cause alongside reducing the noise can help alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus.

Tinnitus Symptoms

Tinnitus is characterized by the sensation of hearing noise when there is no external noise present. There are various types of phantom noises that patients can report hearing with this condition. The most commonly reported are:

  • Humming
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Ringing

Different patients will report varying pitch levels of phantom noises. Some may be a very low roar while others may report a high-pitched squealing sound. Those who have more of the high-pitched sounds can have difficulty concentrating and/or hearing other external noises.

These hearing-related symptoms can come and go, or may remain constant. Since this is just a symptom of various underlying conditions, there are many variations in the severity of tinnitus experienced by different people.

Types Of Tinnitus

The varying types of tinnitus will sport the same symptoms for all patients. However, the symptom can be broken down into one of two medical categories: subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Let's take a look at what each of these types is so that you can better understand what may be causing your condition.

Subjective Tinnitus

This is the most common form of tinnitus that people experience, and is characterized by phantom noises that only you can hear. This type of tinnitus is usually caused by ear problems with the inner, outer, and middle ear. In some rarer cases, it can be caused by issues with the auditory (hearing) nerves and/or the auditory pathways where the brain interprets the nerve signals.

Objective Tinnitus

This second type of tinnitus is a rare condition. It's defined as noises of the ear that both you and the doctor can hear during an ear examination. This type of tinnitus is typically caused by muscle contractions, middle ear bone conditions, or blood vessel problems.

What Are The Common Causes Of Tinnitus?

As mentioned above, tinnitus is simply a symptom. Identifying the underlying condition that is causing tinnitus to occur is a necessity for proper treatment. Here is a shortlist of the most common causes of tinnitus:

Hearing Loss

As people get older, it's not uncommon for their hearing to get worse. This typically starts around age 60, when hearing loss can begin to cause the tinnitus symptoms. In this instance, it's medically referred to as presbycusis.

Loud Noise Exposure

If you've ever experienced a short-term ringing in your ears after a music concert or after firing a weapon, then you've experienced short-term tinnitus. There are a variety of causes that can be responsible for loud noise. Some of these include firearms, chainsaws, heavy equipment, loud concerts, and audio devices played at a very loud volume.

Blockage Of Earwax

Most everyone naturally produces earwax. This protective coating helps to trap unwanted bacteria and dirt in the ear canal. However, if too much earwax accumulates inside of the canal and solidifies, it can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss.

Alterations In The Ear Bone

The bones that make up the middle ear can stiffen. When this happens, tinnitus and hearing loss can occur. This condition has a genetic component and the stiffening is usually caused by abnormal bone growth.

 

How Can Hearing Aids Help Treat Tinnitus?

At the most basic level, hearing aids can help to reduce the symptom of tinnitus by amplifying the background noise. This helps to reduce your awareness of tinnitus as the brain focuses on the outside world instead of the phantom sounds of tinnitus. However, this isn't the only way hearing aids can help with tinnitus.

More advanced hearing aids can emit white noise or another artificial sound into the ear. This sound works to decrease the signal-to-noise ratio that helps to tune out tinnitus sounds. This feature is available in many new hearing aids that are aimed directly at fixing tinnitus.

Tinnitus is annoying, but it is just a symptom of an underlying problem with the body. By better understanding what tinnitus is and its potential causes, you can better adjust to treating the symptom. Using hearing aids may help you treat and alleviate tinnitus so you can get more enjoyment out of life. Online Hearing offers hearing aids that come with tinnitus therapy features, so shop with us today and get some relief from the ringing!

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