Tinnitus is a condition resulting in ringing in the ears when no actual sound is present. It is not a disease itself, rather a side effect of a number of causes, including exposure to loud noises, ear infections, multiple sclerosis, stress, allergies, nasal congestion, earwax build-up, and as a side effect or form of withdrawal from certain medications.

Even whiplash from a car accident or migraine headaches can cause tinnitus. The most common cause of tinnitus is due to noise-induced hearing loss.

Approximately 20% of people age 55-65 reported tinnitus-like symptoms on a general health questionnaire. The symptoms experienced by people with tinnitus include ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, and even clicking noises in the ear.

There are two different types of tinnitus: Subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is the most common form of the condition, in which only you can hear the noises. This form of tinnitus is caused by problems with the outer, middle, or the inner ear and may be caused by how the nerves in your brain interpret sound.

Objective tinnitus is a form of tinnitus that your doctor can actually hear when performing an examination on you. It is far less common than subjective tinnitus and can be caused by muscular contractions, blood vessels not functioning properly, or a condition involving the inner ear bones.

There is a very common misconception that tinnitus makes it harder to hear. Tinnitus can be annoying and affect your ability to concentrate, but it has very little impact on hearing. If you’re having trouble hearing, it is probably related to some degree of hearing loss. Even a slight degree of hearing loss can affect hearing, and can be noticeable in noisier environments, like a restaurant.

Tinnitus is also associated with an abnormal sensitivity to sound (i.e. water running in the sink), known as hyperacusis. It can also relate to negative emotions/reactions to certain sounds (i.e. anger, anxiety), known as mesophonia.

Treatment options for tinnitus have been researched for many years and the literature indicates various options that are very successful. You don’t just have to learn to live with it!

A thorough examination of your ears at our St. Petersburg or Largo office can diagnose tinnitus. Our hearing specialists can then help devise an appropriate course of treatment and/or correction. In many cases, tinnitus symptoms improve with the proper treatment, but it’s important to determine the underlying cause first.

If you’re suffering from ringing or buzzing in your ears, contact Sound Advice Hearing Solutions to schedule a hearing exam. St. Pete 727-822-2132, Largo 727-518-1111