Ear / October 28, 2021
By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.
About 50 million Americans have experienced ringing in the ear that occurs occasionally and lasts a few seconds. Concert goers may have experienced it for an hour or day after attending an event. While these cases demonstrate temporary or transient tinnitus, for 12 million people the tinnitus is permanent.
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss; sometimes the tinnitus is more noticeable than the hearing loss. For individuals who experience persistent tinnitus, a hearing aid may be recommended for sound therapy. The use of sound therapy in a hearing aid can make the tinnitus less noticeable while not blocking an individual’s hearing ability- as an earbud would. An evaluation by an Audiologist is needed to determine the cause of your tinnitus and appropriate recommendation.
Certain lifestyle habits can exacerbate tinnitus; while they don’t cause tinnitus, modifying these factors can help reduce the frequency and/or intensity of tinnitus. Try reducing stress, implementing dietary restrictions (minimize caffeine, alcohol, and sodium), quit smoking, and get a good night’s sleep. Keeping a log can help identify triggers to avoid. Some people try home remedies and herbal supplements; however, research has not supported the claims that this treats tinnitus.
There are medical conditions that can trigger or worsen tinnitus. For instance, ear wax, ear infection or perforated ear drum can trigger the ringing. These etiologies cause short-term tinnitus and can be treated by an ENT physician. Other conditions may require further assessments and a referral to a specialist (e.g., temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, dental issues, cardiovascular disease, blood vessel issues, or head and neck trauma).
You can prevent the development of tinnitus by protecting your ears from excessive noise exposure. Wearing hearing protection when around noise can protect your hearing. Hearing protection comes in all shapes and sizes; from disposable foam plugs, to ear muffs and custom hearing protection. Talk to your audiologist to find the right hearing protection based on your environmental needs.
Most cases of tinnitus will not go away on its own and require the evaluation and management of a specialist. The first step is an ENT evaluation and audiological exam. If you experience tinnitus, call our office today and schedule your appointment. Call 847-685-1000.
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About Ear, Nose, and Throat Center
The Ear, Nose, and Throat Center (ENT) is the premier Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery group in the northern Chicago suburbs. Our skilled and compassionate doctors can provide you with the latest advancements in total care for diseases, cancer, and disorders affecting the ears (including hearing), nose, mouth, allergy, sinuses, throat, head, and neck. We offer the highest level of specialty care for all ages from pediatric to geriatric.
We have two offices located in Park Ridge and Buffalo Grove, enabling us to conveniently serve patients in the surrounding Chicago suburbs including Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Niles, Palatine, Rosemont, Wheeling, and more in Cook and Lake counties.
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