Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is a malfunction in the hearing system that results in a ringing, humming, buzzing, or clicking sound in the ears. Patients also sometimes describe a hissing, roaring, or whistling sound. These sounds can be intermittent or continuous and may vary in loudness from time to time.
This bothersome condition is usually associated with some hearing loss and impacts millions of people around the world. There are many different causes of tinnitus, ranging from something as simple as wax against the eardrum to the more complex issue of a tumor on the hearing nerve. Factors that are believed to increase tinnitus include past exposure to loud noises, caffeine, aspirin, and stress.
Although there is no proven cure for tinnitus, some patients may respond well to behavioral and cognitive therapies, changes in their medications, repair of abnormal blood vessels, or prescription drugs in managing this condition. When tinnitus is the result of hearing loss it is typically due to damaged nerves in the hearing organ, and thus is irreparable. In those cases, hearing aids can provide much-needed relief for patients. Tinnitus maskers are also available. These discrete devices are similar to hearing aids and mask the ringing or unwanted inner ear sound by generating a low-level noise. The tone and level of the masking sound can be set by our audiologists, based on the patient’s individual condition.