Ringing, crickets, mosquitos, whooshing, roaring, hissing, an out-of-tune flute section. All of these things can be used when describing the serenade that is happening in your head, and no you're not crazy.
A day does not go by where I am not asked about tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. To a certain extent everyone has tinnitus at some point. It is quite natural for you to hear a high pitched ring or buzz periodically, lasting just a couple seconds. It is when the time between these events gets shorter and shorter and the duration of the ringing becomes longer and longer that tinnitus becomes an issue.
This personal symphony that you have acquired has many origins. These include but are not limited to: noise exposure, change in blood pressure and blood flow, change in oxygen levels to the brain/ear, pharmaceutical drugs, high frequency hearing loss, sustained high temperatures, head trauma and can accompany different vestibular syndromes/diseases.
Will it go away? Maybe, maybe not. For example, if you have been at Austin City Limits (ACL) and you find that your ears are ringing the day after, it might go away. More importantly why were you there without earplugs? Back to tinnitus, at this point that ringing is your body’s way of telling you to knock it off, you have done damage to the sensory cells of the cochlea and the nerve fibers of your auditory nerve. Initially this can subside, but it can be permanent.
So you have tinnitus, now what? Well, if you’re like me and it drives you crazy and is an all day, every day kind of thing there are treatment options. It doesn’t matter if you have hearing loss or not, there may be something to help. Before you go down this path realize that the damage on that nerve is unique to you, and the level of relief is not something we will know until we try. These options run the gamut from oscillating fans to tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), ear level masking devices, and hearing aids. What is suitable for you depend on the intensity and your individual needs. Personally, I wear hearing aids to get rid of my tinnitus. And for the record, no I do not have hearing loss and no you can't see them.
But wait a second; I saw this vitamin in CVS that will get rid of it…
Will it work? Maybe, probably not. The ear is the smallest and most complicated organ in our body. The exact origins of the tinnitus and affected area are unknown. The FDA really doesn’t like us cutting into your head and removing your cochlea. So, that option is out. There hasn’t been a reproducible study that shows any long-term benefit from the supplements. So, as always buyer beware.
For more information:
Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA
Dr. Paige Peterson is an Audiologist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX and specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Audiology and is currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.