Don't dismiss the ringing in your ears. "The ringing in my ears is driving me crazy." "What is it and how do I get rid of it?" "I have heard many claims but I want the truth." These are the questions and phrases I hear often. The claims are real and it is called tinnitus. Tinnitus is, for most people, phantom perception or sound occurring in the brain's pathway due to a loud sound or background activity under stress related situations. The individual with the tinnitus is the only one who can hear it, which is called subjective tinnitus. On occasion, a rare condition occurs in which the tinnitus may be heard and measured by a train professional. Such tinnitus is related to blood flow or contractions of small muscles in the head and it may be caused by the inner hair cells being damaged. This is the objective of tinnitus.
In the general population, tinnitus may be caused from repeated exposure to loud sound, an episode of explosive sound, head or neck injury, stress, certain medications, ear disease, or dysfunction. The truth is millions of people suffer from tinnitus and there are many conflicting reports and causes as there are individuals. No two people listen the same way, share the same medical and environmental backgrounds, or go to the same places at the exact same time. No treatment - whether it is a medication or hearing aid - is going to be the right answer for everyone. If you are utilizing a hearing aid to mask out the ringing, one way or the other, you will need to have a good tinnitus matching procedure provided by a trained audiologist.
As an audiologist, I need to know the exact frequency and intensity as well as if it is maskable and by what type of noise, tone, or response pattern. I need to know if it is intermittent or continuous noise, if it is pulsed or sounds similar to a bee buzz, locust, ocean waves, hissing, highline wire hum, tea kettle whistle, or a telephone ring. There are a numerous amount of variables to just say it is related or probably related to a certain cause, and to treat everyone the same is not answering the questions or providing all the correct avenues of treatment.
So, for now, most will use the Band-Aid approach, but if you would like more information, call an audiologist
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Patricia Larson Shields, AuD FAAA MA CCC-SP/L is a doctor of audiology with her degree from The School of Audiology of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in February, 2003. She has been in business in Mitchell, SD since September, 1991.