According to the Center for Disease Control, around 15% of the general public experience some form of tinnitus. It's something that affects a lot of us at some point during our lives, but not something that many of us know that much about. 

When we experience tinnitus, one of the first things that we wonder is whether it will get better, or whether our hearing will be permanently changed. The idea of living with a permanent ringing or buzzing in your ears can be troublesome, and it's only natural to be concerned. But the good news is, depending on the cause of your tinnitus, it will usually clear up in time or with treatment from an audiologist

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no external sound. When you experience tinnitus, you can hear a noise, which no one else can. It's often described as a ringing or buzzing, but you could also hear clicking, hissing, roaring or humming. The noises that you hear may be sudden or come on gradually. They might come and go, their pitch and volume may change, and you could experience recurring episodes over time, with no symptoms in between. Tinnitus can occur in one ear, or both, and may be accompanied by an earache. Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, you may have other symptoms, including dizziness and fluid leakage. Your audiologist will use any accompanying symptoms to help them make a diagnosis. 

There are two different kinds of tinnitus. Subjective and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is when only you can hear the sound, this is the most common kind. Objective is when your audiologist also hears the noise when they perform an examination, this is much rarer and caused by a problem with the blood vessels in the ear. 

What causes tinnitus?

It's important to understand that tinnitus isn't a condition on its own, but rather a symptom of something else.  The good news is, it's not usually a sign of something serious. Some of the causes of tinnitus include:

  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss is common as we age. It's thought that around half of people over the age of 75 experience hearing loss of some form. The cells of our inner ear deteriorate through natural wear and tear, and tinnitus can be more noticeable. 
  • Exposure to loud noise: You may notice that after a sudden or prolonged exposure to loud noise, you hear a ringing in your ears. Regularly being exposed to loud noises can cause premature hearing loss and long-term tinnitus. 
  • Stress: Stress and anxiety can cause many, often unexplained changes in our bodies, as our mental health manifests in physical ways. Hearing changes and tinnitus are common symptoms of stress, but we don't fully understand why. 
  • Infections: Ear infections are common, especially in children. 
  • Waxy build-up: A build-up of earwax doesn't always cause tinnitus, but it can. 
  • Damaged eardrum: Tinnitus is often a predominant sign of a perforated or otherwise damaged eardrum. This could be caused by overzealous cleaning, wax, infection and a change in air pressure or very loud noise. 
  • Meniere’s disease: A rare condition which affects the inner ear. Other symptoms may include vertigo. 
  • Glue ear: A condition which causes a fluid build-up in the inner ear most commonly affects young children. 

Other causes of tinnitus may include facial trauma, brain injuries, changes to blood pressure and other blood flow issues, diabetes and thyroid disorders. It can also be a side effect of some medication. 

Will my tinnitus go away?

Whether or not your tinnitus will go away on its own in time, depends on the root cause, which is why it is so important that you see an audiologist as soon as you start to experience symptoms. While most of the causes of tinnitus aren't serious, some can be long-lasting, or recurrent and those such as infections or perforated eardrums aren't likely to get better without treatment and can get worse if they are left. 

Getting more help

Whether you have been living with tinnitus for a while, or your symptoms are fairly new, it's a good idea to see an audiologist, but especially if there's no obvious cause. An audiologist from El Paso Hearing Aid and Audiology center will be able to find the root cause of your tinnitus, offer you a more comprehensive idea of what to expect, and devise a treatment plan if needed. To book an appointment or to learn more about El Paso Hearing Aid & Audiology Center call at 915-532-6935 today.