Why Do You Hear a Ringing in Your Ear?

Why Do You Hear a Ringing in Your Ear?

Have you ever thought you heard a fax coming in only to realize that you have not owned a personal fax machine for at least two decades? Hearing a low buzzing, hissing, ringing in the ear, roaring or clicking is a sign you may be suffering from tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound when no sound is actually present. Almost 20 percent of the population in San Diego and throughout the country reports some degree of tinnitus. Those suffering from tinnitus may experience these sounds constantly or sporadically and they may be present in both ears or only one; sounds can also vary in frequency and pitch. In addition to hearing a phantom noise, those with tinnitus often also experience fatigue, sleep problems, memory problems, depression and anxiety.

ringing in the ear treatment in san diego

Have you now accepted the fact that your San Diego home has not suddenly starting making new house sounds and instead you may be suffering from episodes of tinnitus? Good. The first step toward tinnitus treatment is accepting you have a problem.

 

Before seeking treatment from our San Diego audiologist it is important to understand what causes tinnitus.

There are two kinds of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective is the most common type and is classified by sounds only you can hear. The second, and much rarer type of tinnitus is called objective. This occurs when your audiologist can actually hear the ringing during an examination.

 

Ringing in the Ear Causes

Tinnitus is typically caused by damage to the inner ear. The inner ear is lined with small hairs. When sound waves enter the ear they cause these hairs to move, which causes an electrical signal to be sent through the auditory nerve to your brain where it is interpreted as sound. If these hairs become damaged they can begin to randomly send electrical impulses. These signals are interpreted by your brain as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise and earwax blockage are all common causes of inner ear damage. This is why hearing protection is so important.

 

In addition to inner ear damage, tinnitus is also a common side effect of some disorders. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder categorized by episodes of vertigo and tinnitus.  Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) or a head or neck injury can cause tinnitus. Acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumor that develops on the nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear, can also cause tinnitus, although usually only in one ear.

 

Blood vessel disorders have been known to cause tinnitus. Atherosclerosis is a condition that can cause the blood vessels near the ear to become rigid. This causes blood flow to be more forceful and as a result, you can actually hear it. High blood pressure, a head or neck tumor pressing on a blood vessel or irregular blood flow can cause tinnitus.

Prescription Drugs

There are more than 200 drugs known to list tinnitus as a side effect. Fortunately, the symptoms will disappear when you stop using the drug. These drugs range from cancer medications to water pills, quinine medications, some antibiotics and certain antidepressants.

 

Figuring out the cause of your ringing in the ear is priority number one for your San Diego audiologist, as it can help them when developing a tinnitus treatment plan. Are you ready to finally have relief from your tinnitus symptoms? If so, contact your San Diego audiologist, today.

 

The Sweet Sounds of Tinnitus!

After anxiously waiting in the online queue for what felt like hours, you finally snagged those tickets to the hottest show coming to San Diego. We will call him “Truce Ringsteen”. Once you are done celebrating, it is time to figure out how to prepare for the concert of your life.

tinnitus and concerts

Concerts are one of the common causes of tinnitus in San Diego. To understand why, first you need to understand how loud noises can harm your hearing. Anything over 85 dB can damage the intricate inner workings of your ear. To put this into perspective: a normal conversation clocks in at about 60 dB, traffic in San Diego can be about 85 dB and the sirens on an emergency vehicle can reach 120 dB. Now, just to be clear, an ambulance zooming past you on the freeway won’t damage your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss only happens when something is incredibly loud, such as an explosion, or you are exposed to any sound over 85 dB for an extended period of time. Sounds like a concert to me.

 

Much like noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus is caused by damage to the inner ear. Inside the inner ear, there are small hairs. Sound waves cause these hairs to move, and these movements send an electrical signal through the auditory nerve to your brain where it is interpreted as sound. If these hairs become damaged, they can randomly send electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise and earwax blockage are all common conditions that cause inner ear damage.

 

The good news is there is an easy solution. Earplugs! Seems almost too simple. Fortunately for you, you had to buy your Truce Ringsteen tickets far in advance. This give you time to visit your San Diego audiologist to be fitted for earplugs. While there are a wide variety of earplugs on the market, the best ones are the ones that are expertly fit to your ear. Musician’s earplugs are the ones you will need. These custom earmolds are able to reduce sound levels evenly so music and speech sound clear. These plugs prevent dangerously loud sounds from entering the ear but still keep the integrity of the music intact.

Don’t let the concert of a lifetime leave you with a lifelong condition. Contact your San Diego audiologist for more information on how to safely attend a concert.

 

6 Ways to Stop Those Annoying Tinnitus Sounds

tinnitus management san diegoThe only thing more annoying than the ringing in your ears is being unable to make it stop. Tinnitus is a term that describes the persistent presences of phantom sounds, which can manifest in many forms including ringing, buzzing or whooshing. There is still no proven cure for tinnitus; however, there are many ways individuals can manage their symptoms.

  1. Get a hearing exam. In most cases of tinnitus, there is also some degree of hearing loss. Sometimes, these two conditions can be treated simultaneously through digital hearing aids. Some listening devices are equipped with sound therapy technology. Your audiologist can perform a hearing test and provide sound therapy recommendations.
  2. Reduce your stress. Studies indicate that stress can worsen tinnitus symptoms. This can serve as a downward spiral, as tinnitus can also increase stress levels. Finding a way to de-stress—such as exercise, meditation or deep breathing—can help reduce the noise.
  3. Eliminate risk factors. Smoking, high caffeine intake and regular alcohol consumption may increase the sensation of the sounds.
  4. Get moving. Exercising three to five times per week can help increase blood flow in your head and ears, which may help reduce unwanted sounds. Additionally, exercise can eliminate some of the issues that develop due to tinnitus, including stress and depression.
  5. Cognitive behavioral therapy. One of the most established forms of tinnitus treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. A psychologist can work with you to teach you to cope with tinnitus symptoms and therefore reduce your reaction. For many people, this has allowed them to cope with their condition and return to their lives as normal.
  6. Check your meds. If you regularly take over-the-counter medicines, you may be increasing your risk of tinnitus. Many common over-the-counter medications are ototoxic and can be harmful to your auditory system. Share your medications with your physician. He or she may be able to provide safe alternatives.

If you’re frustrated with the ringing in your ears, contact an audiology professional. As experts in the arena of hearing health, audiologists can provide thorough diagnostics and personalized treatment options to manage your condition. To find a premier audiologist in San Diego, contact our team today at (858) 279-3277!

Will Gene Therapy Help Cure Tinnitus?

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Tinnitus, a condition where individuals hear persistent phantom sounds, is more prevalent than you might realize. The condition affects up to 50 million Americans, or 20 percent of the population. Tinnitus sounds can manifest differently depending on the individual—buzzing, whooshing, ringing, for example—and the severity can range from mild to debilitating. There are proven tinnitus treatment options, including sound or behavioral therapy, but some are unable to achieve complete rehabilitation from these methods. Fortunately, recent studies conducted in gene therapy have shown promise and may even lead to a cure for tinnitus and hearing loss.

While there are a number of potential causes of tinnitus, the majority of tinnitus cases are linked to hearing loss. Hearing health professionals theorize that as you lose the ability to hear certain frequencies, the brain compensates by increasing sound sensitivity or creating phantom sounds.

Studies in gene therapy have attempted to regenerate cells so the body can restore the hair cells responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. Through the regeneration of sensory receptors, an individual’s hearing can potentially normalize, thereby eliminating the presence of unwanted sounds. This method has proven successful in treating other animals, primarily guinea pigs and mice. Recently, researchers have begun doing pilot tests on human subjects. In 2014, a Denver native was among the first to receive the gene therapy treatment. Though the research is ongoing, the patient did tell The New York Times he was “hearing a new sound or hearing sound differently” than he had before.

Since the initial reports in early 2015, little has been shared about the progress of the pilot test. Researchers are still optimistic, however, and some are hoping for successful human treatments by 2025. If the scientific community is able to accomplish this feat, it would have a significant impact on the medical field and hearing health industry. Fortunately, there are many other successful options for tinnitus treatment. San Diego is equipped with premiere hearing health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of tinnitus and hearing loss. To schedule a consultation with an audiologist, we welcome you to contact our team at our Hillcrest office at (619) 298-8546 or in Clairemont at (858) 279-3277.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Your Tinnitus?

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If your life has been affected by tinnitus, a perception of sounds when no sound is present, then you understand what a drastic impact it can have on an individual’s well-being. Persistent and unwanted sounds can impede a person’s ability to perform their daily activities, cause sleep disorders and even lead to depression. Fortunately, there are a number of tinnitus treatment options that may bring relief. Many prominent forms of treatment fall under two categories, sound and behavioral therapy.

Sound Therapies

This method uses external sounds to help counteract the persistent noise caused by tinnitus. Some forms of sound therapies include sound masking, distraction, retraining and neuromodulation. A number of devices have been created for this purpose, including hearing aids, sound masking machines and notched-music devices. Sound masking typically offers temporary relief, while notched-music devices use habituation to help the patient become accustomed to the the sound and achieve relief over time.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies can be used in conjunction with sound therapies or independently to alter an individual’s emotional reaction to their tinnitus symptoms. The presence of unwanted sounds can be emotionally challenging. Therapy can aim to reduce tinnitus-related anxiety or stress. By altering their reaction to the trigger, patients can more successfully dissociate from tinnitus’ negative effects. Some popular therapies include Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), Tinnitus Activities Treatment (TAT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

So, what form of tinnitus treatment is right for you? While a spectrum of therapies and treatments exists, the ability to treat or manage tinnitus symptoms is dependent on the underlying issue. An audiologist will conduct a physical exam and learn more about your symptoms in order to determine the cause of the disorder. Your hearing care professional will then make a recommendation on which therapy or combination of therapies will be most effective. If you or a loved one is suffering from tinnitus, relief is possible. To learn more about tinnitus treatment, or to schedule a consultation with a local San Diego audiologist, contact our office at (619) 298-8546.