Tinnitus is a fairly common problem that affects one in five people in the United States. While the condition isn’t dangerous, constant phantom noises can impact your life significantly. At ENT and Allergy Specialists, the doctors understand the conditions that cause tinnitus and work with you to find a quieting solution to the problem. If you’d like to learn more, call one of their four locations in Bryn Mawr, Phoenixville, Pottstown, and East Norriton, Pennsylvania. Or schedule an appointment using the online booking tool.
Tinnitus isn’t a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. The hallmark of tinnitus is the presence of noise, which can be:
You may hear the noise in both ears or just one, and it can be intermittent or constant. The sound's decibels can vary, as well, sometimes coming on louder than at other times.
There are two types of tinnitus:
Most people suffer from subjective tinnitus, as objective tinnitus is a relatively rare occurrence that involves a physical malfunction in your ear.
The most common cause of tinnitus is age-related hearing loss, which is why the condition is so prevalent.
In addition to age, exposure to loud noises — which leads to noise-related hearing loss — can cause tinnitus to develop.
Other causes include:
The first order of business is locating the underlying cause of your tinnitus. Your otolaryngologist performs an extensive examination, which may include X-rays, balance tests, and laboratory work.
Tinnitus is most often caused by damage to cells in the inner ear which then leads to over-active cells in the hearing center of the brain. These brain cells produce their own false signals that the brain interprets as tinnitus or false noise. In severe cases, these false signals can also set off signals in the anxiety center of the brain making the tinnitus worse and causing emotional discomfort as well. New research has led to more effective treatment for both the tinnitus and the associated anxiety that some people feel. For recent-onset hearing loss and tinnitus, medicines such as steroids can restore hearing and eliminate tinnitus. For more distant-onset tinnitus new sound therapies, including Neuromodulation (not to be confused with the older Neuromonics), have shown great success in eliminating the false brain signals and tinnitus. Occasionally, we work with your primary physician to concurrently treat anxiety created by the tinnitus for the best results. This is an area of particular interest to Dr. Broker who is pioneering treatment pathways for this disease. Other possibly useful therapies may include:
Also, at-home relaxation and sound therapies, and limiting caffeine and other stimulants can go a long way toward lessening the impact of your tinnitus.
If you’d like to find out more about addressing your tinnitus, call ENT and Allergy Specialists, or fill out the form online to schedule an appointment.