The Audiologists at Ear, Nose and Throat Surgical Associates in Appleton can diagnose and treat Tinnitus - Ringing in the Ear.
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing sounds that are not there. Normally, a soundwave will be converted into a vibration that is then passed through the ear. When the vibration enters the inner ear it will cause the tiny hairs that line the cochlea to move; this movement creates an electric signal. This signal is passed through the auditory nerve to the brain where it is interpreted as sound. If there has been damage to the hairs within the inner ear they can begin to randomly send electrical impulses to the brain. The brain will then interpret these signals as sound, even though no sound is present.
Hearing sounds that are not present is not an actual condition, but is a symptom of something else.
Tinnitus can sound different to everyone. The most common sounds are a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing. These sounds may also vary in volume.
There are two kinds of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type. This type of tinnitus produces sounds that only you can hear. Objective tinnitus can be heard by your doctor when completing an evaluation. This type is quite rare and usually caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition or muscle obstruction.
Along with the phantom noises, tinnitus can affect your quality of life. Those with tinnitus may experience fatigue, stress, sleep problems, memory problems, depression, anxiety and trouble concentrating.
The most common causes of tinnitus are age-related hearing loss and exposure to loud noises. Both can cause damage to the hairs within the inner ear. Earwax blockage can lead to temporary bouts of tinnitus; once the wax is removed the symptoms usually go away. Many medications list tinnitus as a possible side effect; the most common offenders are antibiotics, cancer medications and water pills.
In order to diagnose tinnitus your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam. Since most suffer from subjective tinnitus your doctor must rely on your explanation of symptoms since they cannot hear the tones.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for tinnitus. The treatment options focus on improving your quality of life and helping the sounds become less bothersome. A white noise machine is able to help drown out the tinnitus; this is especially helpful when trying to fall asleep. A hearing aid can be utilized to make other sounds louder, drowning out the tinnitus. A masking device is worn like a hearing aid and generates a continuous low-level sound to help suppress the tinnitus.
If you are taking a medication that lists tinnitus as a side effect your doctor may try switching you to a different medication.
If you are experiencing tinnitus, contact us at (920) 734-7181. We can help improve your quality of life.