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Ringing in Ear (Tinnitus)

ringing-ears.hrTinnitus is a ringing or roaring in the ears that may occur occasionally, lasting only a few minutes at a time, or can be a constant background distraction. A common condition, it affects 20% of the U.S. population. It is more an annoyance than anything else.

Types of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is variously described as a ringing, hissing, buzzing, whooshing, or roaring sound in one or both of the ears. In some cases, it may appear to keep time with your heartbeat. The most common cause is hearing loss related to the natural aging process, but can also be the result of prolonged exposure to loud noises, excessive earwax, ear infections, a ruptured eardrum, head trauma, excessive alcohol consumption, reactions to medications, vascular problems, various neurologic disorders and rapid, severe weight loss.

There are two types of tinnitus: pulsatile (created by muscle movements around the ear and blood flow in the face or neck), and nonpulsatile (caused by nerve damage in the ears). If you suffer from pulsatile tinnitus, you may be able to hear your own pulse or heartbeat; nonpulsatile tinnitus often gives the sensation of sounds coming from inside your head.

With so many possible causes – some more serious than others – it’s best to see an ENT Specialist if you are bothered by tinnitus, especially if it is interfering with your lifestyle.

Treatments

There are steps you can take at home to reduce the symptoms associated with tinnitus. These include cutting back on your intake of beverages containing alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking, exercising on a regular basis, and avoiding large amounts of aspirin. Try to stay away from noisy environments; if this can’t be helped, wear ear protection. Participate in meditative exercises like yoga. Playing white noise while sleeping can mask other sounds and help you achieve a good night’s sleep.

If you have symptoms of tinnitus, please call our office and schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified ENT Specialists.

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