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Are Your Ears Ringing in the New Year? It Could Be Tinnitus

Tinnitus refers to hearing a sound without an external source. Most people with tinnitus hear a ringing sound, while others complain of a buzzing, humming, or whistling noise. You may hear the sound in one or both ears, and it may be constant or intermittent. 

Tinnitus often occurs after exposure to loud noise, such as at a concert. It’s considered chronic when it lasts longer than six months.

Here at Southern ENT in Louisiana, our highly skilled providers will get to the root of your tinnitus and recommend a treatment plan to help you get relief. The cause of tinnitus isn’t always known.

Sometimes underlying conditions can cause tinnitus. When this is the case, treating the underlying condition may bring relief. In some circumstances, medications can cause tinnitus as a side effect. In this case, the tinnitus goes away once you stop taking the medication.

If you’re experiencing a ringing in your ears, schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists for a comprehensive evaluation.

What is tinnitus?

Over 50 million Americans have some form tinnitus. It’s more common in people over the age of 55 and is associated with hearing loss. But this doesn’t mean that you will suffer hearing loss if you have tinnitus.

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing sound in the ears. It may have a low- or high-pitched sound. Some people with chronic tinnitus adjust to the ringing sound and learn to tune it out. 

But for others, tinnitus can significantly interfere with daily life. The constant ringing sound can make it difficult to concentrate at work or school, interrupt a good night’s sleep, and lead to irritability and depression.

Most of the time, tinnitus consists of sounds only you can hear. In some cases, though, others can hear it too. Most commonly, a heart murmur causes a whooshing sound that your doctor can hear through a stethoscope.

In pulsatile tinnitus, you may hear the sound of your heartbeat. This can happen when arteries stiffen and blood flows turbulently through the hardened arteries. This is more common in older adults. Aside from being a nuisance, the sound usually isn’t a cause for concern. In rare cases, this may be a sign of blood vessel damage or a tumor.

What should I do if I hear noises in my ears?

If you suspect that you may have tinnitus, discuss it with your primary care doctor. Your physician will look into common problems such as excess earwax, medical conditions, or medications that may be the cause. 

If no obvious cause is found, your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist for further evaluation.

When you visit Southern ENT, we conduct a physical examination as well as test your hearing to check for hearing loss and other issues. We may refer you to one of our audiologists to measure your hearing and thoroughly evaluate your tinnitus. 

Treatment for tinnitus

Even if we don’t find a cause, we can treat your tinnitus to help you better cope with tinnitus. Treatment plans are highly individualized to address your unique situation and may involve:

Tinnitus is sometimes a symptom of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. A dental procedure to realign your jaw could provide relief when this is the case.

Tinnitus is often unpredictable, so you need a team with the experience to manage your tinnitus and help you lead a good quality of life. If you hear a ringing sound that won’t seem to go away, schedule a visit with one of our Southern ENT providers for a thorough evaluation.

Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, Opelousas, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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