What causes tinnitus and can others hear my tinnitus?
Most tinnitus is only heard by the one who has tinnitus. There are some causes of tinnitus that may be heard by a physician. Tinnitus of this type is called objective tinnitus. Examples of objective tinnitus include abnormal blood vessels in the ear or by muscle spasms which may sound like clicks or cracklings inside the middle ear.
There are many known causes of tinnitus. The most common known cause is from hearing loss. You may not realize that you have a hearing loss. Dr. Pasha routinely orders an audiogram or hearing test for tinnitus patients to see if you have a significant loss of hearing. Hearing loss from advanced age and loud noise exposure are the most common forms of hearing loss that causes tinnitus. Although hearing loss is common with tinnitus patients many causes of tinnitus cannot be identified.
Other common causes of tinnitus include:
- Medications: especially aspirin containing medications
- Stress: stress may be a trigger for tinnitus
- Ear Wax (Cerumen): a plug of wax in the ear may cause temporary tinnitus until it is removed
- Ear Infections: fluid behind the eardrum may cause ringing in the ear
- Allergies: allergic rhinitis has been associated with tinnitus
- Medical Problems: diabetes, high-blood pressure, thyroid disorders have all been shown to cause noise in the ears
- Tumors: tumors of the ear are a rare cause of tinnitus
How does Dr. Pasha address tinnitus?
Initially, Dr. Pasha will assess you to see if you have a known medical condition that may cause noise in your ears. He will check your ears to see if you have an infection or anything else that may cause tinnitus. After your exam, Dr. Pasha commonly orders an audiogram or hearing test to see if you have a hearing loss. Many people have a hearing loss especially in the high frequencies (high pitches) without being aware of their loss. In some cases, Dr. Pasha may ask for a MRI or CAT scan to rule out other potential causes of tinnitus.
What is the treatment for tinnitus?
Treatment for tinnitus can be challenging depending on the cause. If the cause of the tinnitus is temporary such as from earwax, medication side effects, or an ear infection, treating the condition eliminates the ringing. Hearing aides may be beneficial for those who have a hearing loss.
In many cases, there may be no specific cause which makes treatment challenging. There are several options that Dr. Pasha may consider from medications to simple masking techniques (see below). Dr. Pasha warns patients to avoid googling tinnitus. Since there is no specific treatment for all tinnitus, on-line remedies tend to be predatory and take advantage of frustrated patients seeking solutions.
What about hearing aids?
People with hearing loss may find that their hearing aids reduce tinnitus and occasionally cause it to go away. Even a person with a minor hearing deficit may find that hearing aids relieve his tinnitus. However, a thorough trial before purchase is advisable if the primary purpose is the relief of tinnitus. Often, when the hearing aid is removed, the head noise returns to its former level.