What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus causes an individual to hear a sound without the actual presence of an external source of the sound. Many with tinnitus report hearing sounds such as ringing, clicking, buzzing, hissing, or roaring at various pitches and frequencies.
The severity of tinnitus is determined by how loud the sounds are, and whether or not they are interfering with your ability to hear or perform daily functions. Typically, an individual will notice that their symptoms worsen at night, which is due to a lack of other external sounds to detract from the continuous sounds created by the tinnitus.
Potential Causes of Tinnitus
There are millions of people who will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives. There are many possible causes for a patient’s tinnitus, including:
- Ear and sinus infections
- Gradual hearing loss with age
- Hearing trauma caused by exposure to loud noises
- Meniere’s disease
- A condition of the thyroid, heart, or blood vessels
- Female hormone changes
- Tumors of the brain
Evaluation and Diagnosis
Tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom associated with another underlying condition. If a patient’s tinnitus can be directly linked to another cause, then it is known as secondary tinnitus. On the other hand, if no cause can be identified apart from hearing loss, then the individual is determined to have primary tinnitus, which is the most common form.
As a case of tinnitus is being investigated, the patient will often undergo a series of tests to determine if their tinnitus symptoms are related to another condition such as a sinus infection. An audiogram is usually performed to measure the individual’s current hearing abilities, and additional scans may be necessary if the tinnitus is believed to be linked to a neurological condition like a brain tumor.
Treatment for Tinnitus
Most people that experience tinnitus symptoms will begin to naturally feel relief within 6 months as the underlying condition corrects itself. However, if a patient’s tinnitus persists and becomes increasingly difficult to live with, it is advised to seek care from an ENT specialist or otolaryngologist in order to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.