Have you ever experienced a “ringing in the ears?” You may actually suffer from tinnitus. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates there are over 50 million Americans (about 15-20% of the general public) who experience some form of tinnitus. Anyone can develop this symptom (even people with normal hearing) however, it is primarily caused by your environmental and behavioral factors. Certain demographics are of course more likely to develop tinnitus including people who suffer from hearing loss or other ear problems. But what exactly is tinnitus and how do you deal with it?

Types and Symptoms

While tinnitus is most commonly referred to as “ringing in the ear,” it is also described as the perception of noise in the ear because it can manifest as buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing or clicking sounds. There are two types of tinnitus – subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus can only be perceived by the patient. It can be caused by an array of catalysts (a thing that increases the rate of) however, it is usually traceable to hearing loss. Objective tinnitus can be heard by other people, including the patient. The sounds usually come from internal body functions like blood flow and musculoskeletal movement. More than 99% of all tinnitus cases are subjective, while less than 1% are objective.

In general, audiologists tend to describe a patient’s personal perception of tinnitus sound in three ways:

• Musical – very rare. The patient perceives music or singing, sometimes on a constant loop or in the same tune.

• Pulsatile – generally associated with objective and physical movement/touch (somatic) tinnitus. The patient perceives pulsing sounds, often in beat with the heartbeat.

• Tonal – generally associated with subjective tinnitus. The patient perceives overlapping or near-continuous sound with well-defined frequencies (volume often fluctuating).

Causes and Related Conditions

Typically, tinnitus is a hearing loss reaction in the brain as a result of damage to the ear and auditory system. While hearing loss is often associated with this symptom, there are many other health disorders that can cause tinnitus as a symptom. In many cases, the exact cause is never found. Below is a list of health issues most commonly associated with tinnitus (also occurring simultaneously):

• Hearing Loss – the primary catalyst for tinnitus symptoms. For many people, this usually happens around age 60.

• Medications – antibiotics, diuretics, pain medications, aspirin etc.

• Exposure to loud noises – this includes heavy equipment, chain saws and firearms, portable music devices (if played loudly for long periods) and attending a concert.

• Ménière’s Disease –  a vestibular disorder in the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance.

• Hyperacusis – an abnormal, extreme sensitivity to noise including ordinary, everyday noises at normal volumes.

• Misophonia – an abnormal, negative emotional reaction to specific sounds. These reactions include extreme anger, disgust, or fear towards the sound.

• Phonophobia – a fearful emotional reaction towards specific loud sounds.

• Depression and Anxiety – tinnitus symptoms often pair with feelings of despair and anxiety.

• Other Vestibular Conditions – the vestibular system manages balance and spatial order. It is also closely connected to the auditory system. Several structures in the inner ear play a key role in both systems.

Dealing with Tinnitus

Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of another underlying health condition such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. Fortunately, there is treatment that can sometimes help alleviate your symptoms which can impact your concentration, sleep, work and even relationships. Tinnitus varies across the population, so it is important to find a knowledgeable healthcare professional who has experience treating tinnitus patients. We want you to feel confident and comfortable – Audicles certified audiologists will help find a solution that works best for you. Make the call for better hearing today!

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Dr. Tracy Board Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Tracy Board Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Board began her career in audiology after completing her undergraduate degree at The University of Texas at Austin and the doctoral program at The University of Texas at Dallas. She has been fortunate to work in a plethora of healthcare and educational settings. As a result, she has perfected the art of effective adult and pediatric treatment. When she is not at the clinic, Dr. Board works directly with her state and national organizations to not only improve the quality of audiological healthcare in Texas, but also to advocate for her patients.
What Was Betty's First Experience at Audicles Like ...
“My first sign of hearing loss was gradually realizing that I couldn’t hear and was missing too much. My first impressions of Audicles were that I would recommend them, they had a good reputation and local. I knew that I needed help and found them very easy to work with, very thorough and very likable. Hearing aids have impacted my life a great deal, I was missing too much of what was going on. My advice to anybody considering visiting Audicles would be that they’re an excellent choice and I think they would be very happy with them.”
Betty P.
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Brian O.
Dr. Watson’s passion to help kids hear better was very heartwarming ...
“My first signs of hearing loss started in 3rd grade, I had problems with my teacher, which in turn led to having a hearing test, which found high frequency hearing loss in my left ear. Audicles made me feel very comfortable right from the start and Dr. Watson’s passion to help kids hear better was very heartwarming, enough to keep me as a patient for 30+ years. My hearing aids have become a true blessing as I have gotten older, if you are considering visiting Audicles, don’t wait! They truly go above and beyond to help you.”
Donald Kotzer
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“Hunter was just four years old when we found out he had a profound hearing loss in both ears and as his parents we were so worried Hunter would have to live with this disability and would always be considered different. As soon as his hearing aids were turned on, he ran to the window and said “trucks.” He could hear the traffic for the first time. When we got home to his Memi’s house, he could hear the peacocks and he was so excited … it was priceless. The impact hearing aids have had on Hunter’s life is incredible, Hunter says “I am able to live a normal life and communicate easily with my family and friends. I love to hunt and fish, which are two things I can do better when I can hear.” For anybody considering visiting Audicles, we would not consider taking Hunter anywhere else, they are the most caring people you will ever meet. We love Dr. Board and all of the staff, they are extremely helpful and welcoming at all times.”
Hunter Brown
Isaac First Visited Audicles as a Little Kid ...
“My first signs of hearing loss came when I was a little kid, I was really happy when I visited Audicles for my first appointment. Hearing Aids have had a really good impact on my life, I can hear everything! I would definitely encourage anybody considering visiting Audicles to go.”
Isaac Leos
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“I was only two when signs of hearing loss were detected so I don’t remember my first appointment, but one of my earliest memories was visiting Dr. Jane with my grandpa. She always made me feel like I belonged and always greeted me with a smile and a hug. My first impressions of Audicles were awesome, I remember sitting in the hearing booth thinking I was in a spaceship! The impact hearing aids have had on my life is indescribable, I would not be where I am without the help of Audicles, Dr. Jane went above and beyond to help me. I would say to anybody considering visiting Audicles, what are you waiting for?”
Jaret Gunn
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“I noticed the first signs of hearing loss at work, as I work with children in my teaching job, I found it harder and harder to hear them. My family were also giving me a hard time about the TV volume. I was so ready to increase my quality of life and not miss anything so I had no fears about visiting Audicles for my first appointment. I was made to feel right at home! They were professional, kind, patient and explained everything. Hearing aids have impacted my life in a big way, I can hear my grandchildren. I have been able to use mics and the technology offered for a variety of purposes was all for the good. If you are considering visiting Audicles, just do it! There is never a better time than the present. What do you have to lose?”
Kim M.
My First Signs of Hearing Loss Were ...
“I was really pleased with my first visit to Audicles, first impressions were very good, everyone is very nice and helpful. Wearing hearing aids has positively impacted my life as I can hear things now that I did not realize I was missing. If you are considering visiting Audicles I would say to go, you can’t find a better service.”
Loretta Anton