Tinnitus | Ringing in the Ears
Do you experience a ringing in your ears that no one else can hear called tinnitus? If so, you’re not alone. Around 45 million Americans have experienced ringing in their ears at some point in their lifetime. Tinnitus the leading medical claim and disability for U.S. Veterans. The good news is, we can help! Dr. Reyes is Tinnitus Management Certified by the American Board of Audiology.
What is Tinnitus?
What we commonly refer to it as “ringing in the ears," is clinically called tinnitus. It is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. Sometimes the sound isn't quite ringing either. Patients also describe it as buzzing, hissing, whistling, roaring, whooshing, and clicking. In some rare cases, patients report hearing music.
Tinnitus can be both a temporary or an ongoing condition. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 15-20% of the general population have experienced or are experiencing some form of Tinnitus.
There is no scientifically validated cure for most types of tinnitus. There are treatments options that can ease the annoyance ringing in the ears can cause. These treatments allow patients to live a more comfortable life.
Evaluation & Testing
Our Audiologist Dr. Reyes, and our ENT physicians have the education and clinical protocols to help evaluate and diagnose tinnitus. Because tinnitus is so often caused by hearing loss, our audiologist will begin with a comprehensive hearing evaluation to look at the overall heath of your ears.
Comprehensive testing will include immittance testing, speech testing, and frequency specific testing. Our audiologist may complete additional testing, depending on the patients’ specific symptoms, medical history, and other medical factors. Tinnitus measurement questionnaires regarding daily impact of tinnitus may be requested and completed at our office. Our audiologist may also recommend seeing our amazing ENT physicians for an extensive medical evaluation. They may request imaging such as a CT scan or MRI of the ear structures depending on the patient’s specific symptoms and medical conditions.
What causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease itself, but rather a symptom of another underlying health issue. In most cases, it is a sensorineural reaction in the brain due to damage in the ear and hearing system. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss. However, there are around 200 different health conditions that can have tinnitus as an underlying symptom. Below is a list of some of the most reported conditions related to tinnitus.
- Hearing loss
- Blockages of the ear due to wax buildup, ear infections, or rarely a benign tumor of the acoustic nerve.
- Tinnitus is cited as a potential side effect for about 200 prescription and nonprescription drugs. These include: aspirin, several types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, loop diuretics, and antidepressants, as well as quinine medications
- Sinus pressure, nasal congestion, a severe cold or flu, allergies
- High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, anemia, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes
- Neck or jaw problems, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Injuries to the head or neck, concussions, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Vestibular disorders such as Meniere’s Disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety
Ear Ringing Treatment
As mentioned above, there is no scientifically validated cure for most types of tinnitus. The search for a cure is ongoing and real progress is being made through extensive research.
There are, however, excellent tools to help patients manage symptoms. Treatments help reduce the perceived intensity, persistent, and burden of tinnitus.
These treatments do not repair the underlying causes of tinnitus, nor eliminate the signal in the brain. Instead, they address the attentional, emotional, and cognitive impacts. They will help you live a better, more fulfilling, and more productive life, even if the tinnitus remains.
Below is a current list of available treatment options:
- Hearing aids
- Sound Maskers/therapies
- Behavioral therapies
- TMJ treatments
- General overall wellness and health
- Changes in medication
- Treatment of underlying medical condition
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Dr. Reyes | Tinnitus Management Certified
Dr. Reyes is one of two Tinnitus Management Certified audiologists in Houston. The certification comes from The American Board of Audiology. Dr. Reyes completed this comprehensive tinnitus education program in an effort to better serve our patient with ear ringing and tinnitus related issues.