Header Top

Utah: 435-688-8991 | Nevada: 702-896-0031
Utah: 435-688-8991 Nevada: 702-896-0031

Tinnitus

Around 48 million Americans are affected by tinnitus. Here at Hearing & Balance Doctors, our doctors of audiology have the education and experience to help you learn more if you believe you are struggling with tinnitus.

What Is Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a phantom sound only the individual with tinnitus can hear. The sound that is heard can vary from person-to-person. Some of the most common sounds are described as clicking, whistling, roaring, buzzing, ringing, and hissing.

Some people experience continuous tinnitus while other individuals have tinnitus which comes and goes. Also, tinnitus can be unilateral (single-side) or bilateral (both sides).

Types Of Tinnitus

More than one type of tinnitus exists, which is part of the difficulty of diagnosing tinnitus. These types are often put into four categories:

  • Temporary tinnitus – Most people will experience temporary tinnitus. This type of tinnitus is short-term and lasts no more than a week. Those who experience temporary tinnitus should consider it a red flag, as it often indicates that your hearing has been damaged to a certain extent.
  • Subjective tinnitus – Aside from temporary tinnitus, subjective tinnitus is the most common form of tinnitus. This form of tinnitus is continuous and can have the sound expressed in multiple ways, but only the tinnitus sufferer can hear the sounds.
  • Objective tinnitus – This type of tinnitus can be heard by others and not just the person who is suffering from tinnitus. If your tinnitus is objective, it indicates a serious medical problem, and you need to seek help immediately.
  • Somatic tinnitus – Tied to the sensory system, somatic tinnitus can go away if any pain in the face, neck, head, arms, tongue, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and the trunk are addressed.

There is no way for you to determine if you are experiencing objective tinnitus or subjective tinnitus. To ensure which type of tinnitus you are dealing with, you should meet with our doctors of audiology for a tinnitus evaluation to see if you need treatment for tinnitus.

Ways People Experience Tinnitus

It is possible to experience tinnitus in different ways. These perceptions are categorized into three different experiences:

  • Tonal tinnitus – Most common of tinnitus experiences, tonal tinnitus is expressed in near-continual sound with well-defined frequencies. The frequencies can overlap (i.e., whistling and buzzing) but are still distinct sounds. Tonal tinnitus is often associated with subjective tinnitus.
  • Pulsatile tinnitus – Rather than having strong monotone frequencies, pulsatile tinnitus is expressed in waves of tinnitus sounds. Many people have identified the tinnitus pulses to be in time with their heartbeats. Pulsatile tinnitus is often associated with somatic tinnitus.
  • Musical tinnitus – A very rare type of tinnitus experience is musical tinnitus. Those individuals who have this type hear their tinnitus as singing or a continuous loop of music, with the tune generally remaining the same.

Perception of tinnitus also plays a part in how people experience tinnitus. Some individuals hear tinnitus as a single monotone frequency while others have tinnitus that comes in multiple sounds which are layered.

Individuals Most At-Risk Of Tinnitus

Potentially anyone is at-risk of developing tinnitus; however, some demographics are more prone to having tinnitus. Some of the most at-risk people are:

  • Smokers – Nicotine from cigarettes has a detrimental effect on the auditory nerve which can trigger tinnitus.
  • Musicians – Whether professional or hobbyist, musicians often suffer from tinnitus due to their constant loud sound exposure. Well-known musicians such as Phil Collins and Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame are known to struggle with tinnitus.
  • Manual labor workers – Those people who work in manual labor jobs such as construction, landscaping, factory, and other jobs are often exposed to loud sounds which can harm your hearing and trigger tinnitus.
  • Earbud users – The way earbuds are shaped allow media to be piped more directly and loudly into your ears at a volume which can damage your hearing and cause tinnitus, either temporarily or permanently.
  • Seniors – As many senior adults struggle with hearing loss, it is not uncommon for them to also experience tinnitus along with a degree of hearing loss.

Possible Causes Of Tinnitus

There can be many possible causes of tinnitus, though some tinnitus triggers are rarer than others. Some of the most common causes of tinnitus are:

  • Hearing loss – There is a strong link between tinnitus and hearing loss, as research has shown. Tentative research points to specific types of hearing damage are associated with tinnitus.
  • Diabetes – When properly managed, it is unlikely that diabetes will trigger tinnitus. However, when unmanaged, spiking insulin levels can damage the nerves in the body, including the auditory nerves which control your hearing, causing tinnitus.
  • Noise exposure – As loud noise exposure is one of the top causes of hearing loss, it is not surprising that noise exposure is also a common cause of tinnitus. As loud sounds damage the hair cells in the ear, you lose hearing and tinnitus often fills the sound void.
  • Trauma to head or neck – Injuries to the head or neck can have an effect on the bones which conduct sounds in your ears. If damage does occur, it can also trigger tinnitus.
  • Earwax – Built-up earwax can create occlusion (plugged-up feeling) and trigger temporary tinnitus.
  • Medication – There are a variety of medications which are ototoxic, meaning they can damage your hearing and trigger temporary or permanent tinnitus.

Hearing Doctors Offer Tinnitus Management Tools

While there is no cure for tinnitus at this time, there are ways to manage the symptoms so you can enjoy a higher quality of life. At Hearing & Balance Doctors, we offer:

  • Assistance identifying tinnitus triggers
  • Hearing aids with tinnitus support to help manage symptoms
  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
  • Progressive tinnitus management plans

If you are ready to take control of your tinnitus today, contact us to make an appointment with one of our doctors of audiology.