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Tinnitus Diagnosis and Remedies

Tinnitus affects over fifty million people in the U.S. It is described as nagging buzzing, whistling, whining, or high-pitched screeching noise in the head or ears that varies in intensity and can be intermittent or constant. Sometimes tinnitus can affect only one ear. Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease, which can accompany any type of hearing loss. The important thing to realize is that in almost all cases, tinnitus does not signify a serious or life-threatening condition, but it is important to see a specialist for a more definitive evaluation.

Causes and Diagnosis

The precise cause of tinnitus is not fully understood, but tinnitus has been associated with:

  • Loud noises, which can damage or destroy hair cells in the inner ear.
  • Toxic medications (ototoxic).
  • Trauma to the head/neck.
  • Certain types of tumors.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Meniere’s disease.

Treatment

Tinnitus is a difficult symptom to treat as the cause is usually difficult to determine. If hearing loss is also present, hearing aids can improve hearing and help alleviate the tinnitus by masking the noise. If no hearing loss is present, masking the tinnitus with background noise or a white noise generator can be useful. There are also several apps on your smartphone that are targeted towards distraction techniques for tinnitus. The specialists here at Southern California Head & Neck Medical Group can discuss other treatment options to help you with your tinnitus.

Tinnitus sufferers should also:

  • Avoid loud noises.
  • Reduce or avoid medications that induce or aggravate the condition, if possible. These include aspirin, NSAIDs, certain antibiotics, and diuretics.
  • Reduce stress and get plenty of rest — feeling stressed and being tired can make tinnitus worse.

If you have any of these conditions, contact Southern California Head & Neck and see a specialist today:

  • Sudden onset of decreased hearing.
  • New problems with walking or balance.
  • New dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in your face, arm or leg.
  • Sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches
  • One sided tinnitus or pulsatile sounds in either ear

By: Abbas Anwar, MD