Tinnitus occurs when a person experiences a ringing in the ears.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. In addition to a ringing sensation in the ears, some report a hissing, roaring, buzzing, whooshing, humming or whistling noise. Tinnitus ranges from an occasional nuisance to a constant distraction that interferes with daily activities.
A wide range of conditions can cause tinnitus. In some cases, the exact cause is unknown. Possibilities include hearing loss related to aging, exposure to loud noise, ear infections or excess earwax, otosclerosis (stiffening of the middle ear bones), head or neck trauma, high blood pressure, Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorders, acoustic neuromas and irregular blood flow in the neck.
There is at present no cure for tinnitus, but steps can be taken to manage the symptoms. The type of treatment depends on the underlying cause, and may involve anything from removing built-up earwax to switching medications.
Noise suppression therapy relies on masking techniques that help disguise the ringing sensation. Devices such as white noise machines, air conditioners, fans and humidifiers can all successfully block out the distracting background noise.