Four Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is most often described as a ringing in the ears, but it can also sound like whooshing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, and pulsing. For some people, it’s loud and incredibly disruptive to their lives. For others, it’s soft and barely noticeable. 

The sound can be high- or low-pitched and may occur in one or both of your ears.

It’s estimated that 25 million American adults experience tinnitus. Some degree of underlying hearing loss occurs in most cases. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatments that help. A visit with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor is the best place to start.

Our esteemed ENT physicians at Southern ENT Associates offer patients the highest quality of care. To diagnose tinnitus, one of our audiologists performs a hearing test. We also examine your ears and discuss your symptoms and medical history. With this insight, we can create a treatment plan to address your tinnitus.

Some causes of tinnitus

If you’ve been diagnosed with tinnitus, you may wonder what causes it. In this blog, we discuss some of the most common causes of tinnitus and how we treat it.

Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that commonly causes dizzy spells and hearing loss. It can also cause tinnitus. Patients with Meniere’s disease who get tinnitus tend to experience a low-pitched, fluctuating sound along with a feeling of ear fullness.

The symptoms of Meniere's are the result of a buildup of fluid in the inner ear. The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown, but several factors may be involved, including allergies, viral infections, and abnormal immune system reactions.

Middle ear infection

Inflammation of the eustachian tubes is a common cause of tinnitus. The eustachian tubes are small passageways that connect your middle ear to the back of your throat. 

Swelling from an infection or allergy can cause fluid to build up in the inner ear, resulting in tinnitus.

Age-related hearing loss

Tinnitus is common in older adults and can come and go. It tends to accompany age-related hearing loss and sometimes is a sign of other health problems like high blood pressure. In some cases, tinnitus is a side effect of medication.

Roughly 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 has some degree of hearing loss. Because age-related hearing loss is typically gradual, many older adults are unaware that they’ve lost some of their hearing. In many cases, tinnitus is the first clue pointing to hearing loss.

Damage to inner ear

Repeated exposure to loud noises and injury to the head or neck can cause tinnitus. The most common type of damage from noise exposure is damage to the outer hair cells called cilia. Once these hair cells are damaged, your body cannot replace them.  

Treating tinnitus

There's no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone, but treatment is more successful if we identify the underlying cause. If we are unable to identify the underlying cause, we focus on managing the condition to improve your symptoms.

Treatment may involve:

We sometimes use cochlear implants for patients who have tinnitus along with severe hearing loss.

Help for tinnitus

Tinnitus treatment requires an individualized approach. No two patients experience tinnitus the same way.  If you have tinnitus, we can help. To get started, give us a call to schedule a visit with one of our providers. 

Southern ENT is a premier provider of ear, nose, and throat services in southern Louisiana. Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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