Tinnitus, in simple words, is the perception of ringing or noise in the ears. It is usually associated with a form of hearing loss, whether temporary or permanent. Hearing loss occurs when the hearing system is damaged in any way.
The most common cause of tinnitus is the deterioration of the auditory nerves that occur as we age. Up to 30% of the elderly have so much hearing loss that they will need a hearing aid.
There is a long list of other possible causes of ringing in the ears.
Some of these includes:
1. Exposure to loud noise, such as music with sound amplifiers, gunshots, MP3 players with headsets that are too loud
2. Any form of ear infections
3. Medication that is toxic to the hearing system such as certain types of antibiotics, diuretics (water pills) and cancer medications
4. Fracture of the skull bone near the ear
5. Menière’s disease
A sudden arrival of tinnitus must be investigated to determine the cause.
Ways to Treat Tinnitus:
If there is a direct cause (eg: medication or loud noise), it should obviously be eliminated where possible.
If it is due to aging, one can minimize the ringing by listening to a pleasant music. Other options are to listen to a book reading or other interesting audio production. Do not sit and wonder what it is – teach your brain to ignore it.
If it is accompanied by significant hearing loss, hearing aids may be of value. In this case, an audiologist can help a lot. He/she can test the ears and prescribe a specific hearing aid. Do not be afraid of wearing a hearing aid. Today’s hearing aids fit completely into the ear canal and are no longer visible from the outside.