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What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus, pronounced TIN-ih-tus or tih-NIGHT-us, is the perception of sound in one or both ears. Often described as a ringing, hissing, or whistling sound that ranges in intensity from very mild to severe. Tinnitus affects more than 50 million Americans to various degrees. At least 12 million of those suffer enough to seek  medical attention.

Who gets tinnitus?

Tinnitus affects more than 50 million Americans to various degrees.  At least 12 million of those who experience tinnitus seek medical help for the condition. Sufferers have reported, interference with sleep, concentration, depression, anxiety, increased stress,problems at work or at home.  Some sufferers can also experience hyperacusis: a sensitivity to sounds.

What causes tinnitus?

There are many potential causes of tinnitus which include:

  • Disorders of the Outer Ear such as : ear wax, items logged in the ear, outer ear infections, damage to the ear drum.
  • Disorders of the Middle Ear such as: infections, otosclerosis, Eustachian tube dysfunction, benign tumors.
  • Disorders of the Inner ear such as: sensorineural hearing loss, noise exposure, damage to the sensory cells, Meniere's Disease, presbycusis (hearing loss from natural aging).
  • Ototoxicity from medications such as antidepressants, chemotherapy, cancer treatment drugs, aspirin, certain sedatives.
  • Systemic disorders such as: high or low blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, vascular disorders, acoustic tumors, head or neck aneurisms, hormonal changes.
  • Trauma to the head or neck, cervical problems, jaw misalignment.

While the majority of tinnitus sufferers have a hearing loss, the presence of tinnitus does not mean one is losing their hearing.

What makes Tinnitus worse?

  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Salty Foods
  • Aspirin
  • Loud Noises
  • Stress

Treatment options:

  • Tinnitus maskers/noise generators
  • Hearing aids if hearing loss is present
  • Alternative Medicine such as acupuncture and hypnosis
  • Bedside white noise generators
  • Medications
  • Stress management, relaxation and biofeedback techniques