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Tinnitus Diagnosis and Remedies

Tinnitus affects over fifty million people in the U.S. Tinnitus is described as a 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:

  • Exposure to loud noises, which can damage or destroy hair cells, called cilia, in the inner ear. Once damaged, these hair cells cannot be repaired or replaced.
  • Medications that are toxic to the ear (ototoxic).
  • Trauma to the head/neck.
  • Certain types of tumors.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Meniere’s disease.

Treatment

If hearing loss is also present, a hearing aid 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. 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, as these can aggravate tinnitus.
  • 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