Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus or head noises. It may be an intermittent sound or an annoying continuous sound in one or both ears. We have all experienced some form of ear noise, but when it is continuous, it can be downright maddening. It can be as simple as a low roar to a high squeal or whine.
Most tinnitus comes from damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear. The health of these nerve endings is important for acute hearing, and injury to them brings on hearing loss and often tinnitus. If you are older, advancing age is generally accompanied by a certain amount of hearing nerve impairment and tinnitus. If you are younger, exposure to loud noise is probably the leading cause of tinnitus, and often damages hearing as well.
Tinnitus may be caused by simple things such as wax on your eardrum. Allergy, high or low blood pressure (blood circulation problems), tumor, diabetes, thyroid problems, injury to the head or neck, trauma and various other causes including medications, aspirin, sedatives, antibiotics, antidepressants, can all cause tinnitus.
Treatment is obviously different depending on the cause. In most cases, there is no specific treatment for ear and head noise. If your ear doctor finds a specific cause of your tinnitus, he or she may be able to eliminate the noise. Testing including X-rays, balance tests, and laboratory work, and specialized hearing test are used to determine the cause. Occasionally, medicine may help the noise. The medications used are varied, and several may be tried to see if they help.
Concentration and relaxation exercises can help to control muscle groups and circulation throughout the body. The increased relaxation and circulation achieved by these exercises can reduce the intensity of tinnitus in some patients.
Masking out the head noise with a competing sound at a constant low level, such as a ticking clock or radio static (white noise), may make it less noticeable. Tinnitus is usually more bothersome in quiet surroundings. Products that generate white noise are available through catalogs and specialty stores.
Although most people do not want to hear this (no pun intended), but if you have a hearing loss along with the tinnitus, hearing aids may reduce head noise while you are wearing them and sometimes cause the noise to go away. Talk to your Ear doctor and audiologist about these issues and what can be done about them.