Have you ever experienced that annoying ringing in the ear? This is called tinnitus. It often doesn’t indicate a serious health problem, but if constant, it can be irritating and may indicate hearing loss. If due to hearing loss, the ringing comes from tiny damaged cells in your inner ear, commonly called hair cells, which alters the way your brain hears sound. Tinnitus isn’t the same for everyone. The sounds can range from hissing, clicking, buzzing to even an ocean sound.
What cause tinnitus?
There are plenty of triggers that cause tinnitus and it can be a temporary or a chronic condition. Almost everyone has experienced temporary tinnitus after hearing loud noises, such as at a concert or a Saints football game. Loud noise is a common cause both of tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Earwax. If you develop too much earwax, it can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss. You can visit an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician to help remove the earwax buildup.
- Ear and sinus infection. A sinus infection increases the pressure in your sinuses that can lead to tinnitus. An ENT physician can prescribe medication or surgery to eliminate a sinus infection.
- Aging. Tinnitus is especially common in adults over the age of 55.
- Medication. Some over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can cause ringing in the ear.
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). The joint in your jaw shares nerves and ligaments with your middle ear, which causes a popping noise in your ear.
- High blood pressure. The hardening of your arteries can cause your blood flow near your ear to become louder.
- Meniere disease, fibromyalgia or Lyme disease.
- Head and neck injuries.
- Anxiety. Anxiety, stress and even depression can contribute to tinnitus or make the perception of it more bothersome
How to treat tinnitus?
If you are experiencing temporary tinnitus, here are a few recommendations:
- Wear earplugs when around loud noises.
- Limit the amount or dosage of certain medications.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Lower your blood pressure by adapting a healthy lifestyle or taking medication.
If you are experiencing chronic tinnitus that won’t go away, our ENT physicians can provide innovative care to help you cope with this condition as well as help find an underlying cause. Some causes of tinnitus may benefit from surgery. Below are the procedures that we specialize in to help with tinnitus.
- Cochlear implantation
- Tympanoplasty (ear drum reconstruction)
- Implantable hearing aids
- Temporal bone resection
- Removal of glomus tumors
- Myringotomy with tube placement (tubes)
- Repair of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
- Treatment for clogged/blocked ears (Eustachian tubes)
Ochsner also offers audiology care. Our comprehensive hearing center specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management of hearing disorders in newborns, seniors and everyone in between. They provide a full spectrum of hearing health care from hearing screenings and diagnostic exams to the fitting of hearing aids and programming of implants.
Click here to learn more about Ear, Nose and Throat at Ochsner Health.
Click here to learn more about the Audiology & Hearing Program at Ochsner Health.