Did you know that tinnitus affects about one in every five people?

Tinnitus is characterized as a ringing, buzzing, hissing or clicking in the ear. The annoying noises are perceptible only to the individual suffering from tinnitus; the noises are sometimes called phantom noises.

These phantom noises can vary in pitch, coming across as a low roar all the way to a loud squeak. The noises may be heard in one or both ears.

Symptoms of tinnitus

While some tinnitus is temporary and non-debilitating, for many individuals suffering from it, the condition can interfere with the ability to hear or concentrate.

As such, if you are experiencing tinnitus symptoms, it is important to make an appointment with your primary care physician or an audiologist.

Make an appointment with a primary care physician if you’re experiencing tinnitus and:

  • You develop a cold, such as an upper respiratory infection, and neither the tinnitus nor your cold has improved within a week
  • You suddenly develop tinnitus with no apparent cause
  • You experience hearing loss or dizziness with the tinnitus

If you are experiencing hearing loss or dizziness, it might be a good idea to skip the primary care physician and call an audiologist instead. An audiologist is a hearing healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating auditory disorders, including dizziness, hearing loss and tinnitus. They will be able to help figure out why you are experiencing tinnitus symptoms. After all, tinnitus is not a condition in and of itself; rather, it is a symptom of some larger condition.

Conditions causing tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Earwax blockage
  • Ear bone changes
  • Meniere’s disease
  • TMJ disorders
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Blood vessel disorders, such as atherosclerosis
  • Head or neck tumors
  • High blood pressure
  • Turbulent blood flow
  • Malformation of the capillaries
  • Ototoxic medications, including antibiotics, cancer medications, water pills, quinine medications and aspirin
  • Pregnancy

Because there are so many conditions that can cause tinnitus, it is important to visit a doctor or audiologist so that a treatment option can be decided upon. Sometimes treatment is as easy as switching medications. However, because there are so many conditions causing tinnitus, there is no set cure or treatment option for audiologists to follow. Nevertheless, proper diagnosis of the reason for the tinnitus can help individuals return back to a normal, happier life.