Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external sound is present. While it’s commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears”, tinnitus can manifest many different perceptions of sound including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, clicking, and in some rare cases music. Tinnitus can be both an acute (temporary) or a chronic (ongoing) condition.
Tinnitus affects 20% of Americans, and hearing loss occurs in 90% of those cases. Although tinnitus is associated with hearing loss, it may not always be the case. Thirteen (13) million Americans report tinnitus without hearing loss. Possible causes of tinnitus are as follows: hearing loss (age related and/or noise induced, obstruction in the middle ear, head/neck trauma, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), ototoxic medication1, or other diseases and medical conditions. A person experiencing tinnitus should not assume that he/she has one of the medical conditions listed above. Only a trained healthcare provider can appropriately diagnose any underlying causes of tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be a debilitating condition that negatively affects one’s overall health and social well-being. The impact of tinnitus varies, as it can be characterized as barely noticeable to not being able to work due to ongoing depression/anxiety. One can use sound masking to counteract their perception and reaction to tinnitus. Sound masking can cover the sound of tinnitus, while more advanced therapies may provide more robust relief.
The professionals at Freedom Hearing Center have the tools and clinical protocols to help evaluate and diagnose tinnitus. Because tinnitus is so often caused by hearing loss, we begin with a comprehensive audiological evaluation that measures your overall hearing health. When evaluating tinnitus cases, we use a supplemental set of tests. While there is currently no way to objectively test for tinnitus, there are several protocols to measure your subjective perception of tinnitus sounds, pitch, and volume.