What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a sound in the head with no external source. The sound may be constant or intermittent, in one ear or both ears, or may sound as if it is from a distance or in your ear. Most tinnitus is subjective, meaning only you can hear the noise. Tinnitus can sound like:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Whooshing
  • Whistling
  • Clicking

Almost everyone has had tinnitus for a short period of time after being exposed to loud noise, but if you hear the noise for longer than 24 hours you should visit our clinic or a family doctor.

Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is where you can hear your heartbeat. Your doctor may be able to hear the sound, if they listen to it with a stethoscope. Unlike regular tinnitus doctors can often pinpoint a specific health problem behind this type of tinnitus, such as:

  • Irregular blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Connection problems between arteries and veins

The treatment for this tinnitus will be determined by what is causing the sound to happen. Once the condition that caused it is treated, the sound should stop.

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Causes of Tinnitus

The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss that occurs with aging or it can be caused by being around loud noises. Other possible causes of tinnitus may be:

  • Medications
  • Buildup of earwax
  • Ear infections
  • Injury to the inner ear
  • Dental or other problems affecting the mouth
  • Blood flow problems
  • Nerve problems
  • Other diseases

Treatment for Tinnitus

There is no cure for most tinnitus, but there are several strategies that can help make tinnitus less bothersome and your doctor can make sure it is not a sign of a more serious problem. The most common strategies are to use masking devices such as hearing aids.

Masking Devices

Masking devices such as hearing aids can be worn to hide the sounds of tinnitus. The devices are programmed to play a more pleasant sound than the internal noise that is produced.

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