A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Healthy Headlines: What that ringing in your ears is trying to tell you — and what you should do about it

St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Do you hear a ringing or a buzzing in your ear? Are you having a hard time concentrating or focusing because you hear a noise no one else can hear?

You could have tinnitus, a common condition affecting about one in five people.

Dr. Stacey Woods, AuD., CCC-A, a Doctor of Audiology with ENT & Allergy Specialist explains: “Some people complain of a classic ringing in the ears, other people describe it as a background “whoosh” sound, crickets or clicking sounds. You may experience it constantly or it could be intermittent.”

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is typically caused by damaged cells in your inner ear. Those cells will then send signals to your brain, making you think you hear sounds that are not there.

Causes of tinnitus include:

▪ Hearing loss due to normal aging.
▪ Loud noise for a sustained period (for example, work such as construction or factory line, gunfire, loud music at concerts, etc.).
▪ Ear wax or infection.
▪ Medications including some antibiotics, anti-seizure medicines and painkillers.
▪ Head or neck injuries.
▪ Other medical issues such as neurologic disorders or inner ear disorders.

How Do You Treat Tinnitus?

The first step is to have your ears evaluated by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.

The doctor will check to see if you have any physical issues which could be contributing to the ringing in your ear. You will then have a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.

“When we treat tinnitus, our goal is to help you learn to live with it,” says Dr. Woods. “Typically, it can’t be cured, rather we help you manage the symptoms and retrain your brain through therapy.”

Treatment options include:

▪ Earwax removal to decrease symptoms.
▪ Using a sound machine to elevate background noise and to introduce pleasant noise.
▪ Hearing aid, tinnitus masker or a combination hearing aid and masker. A masker will create noise or sound to distract you from the ringing noise.
▪ Retraining therapy to help you deal with the physical response associated with the ringing.
▪ Changing medication if it is the cause of tinnitus.
▪ Treating the underlying health condition.

Do you think you may have ringing in your ears?

Join the St. Elizabeth Healthcare staff from ENT & Allergy Specialists and learn about the connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. The presentation will include a discussion of common symptoms, causes and the available treatments for relief. This event will be held on November 7 from 10 to 11 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Florence in the lower level conference room.

To reserve your space, please call the PrimeWise hotline at (859) 301-5999.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment