By BRADLEY KESSER: Complete Post through this link…
Tinnitus is a common condition characterized by the perception of noise or ringing in the ears without an external sound source. Typically experienced as ringing, buzzing, hissing, or clicking, it can stem from various causes, such as age-related hearing loss, loud noise exposure, ear infections, or head injuries. Although tinnitus is often regarded as a symptom rather than a disease, it can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
As a neurotologist – that’s an ear specialist – I have seen approximately 2,500 tinnitus patients during my 20-year career. That might sound like a lot, but it shouldn’t be a surprise – up to 15% of the U.S. population experiences tinnitus. That’s more than 50 million Americans.
Roughly 20 million of those have burdensome, chronic tinnitus, and another 2 million struggle with extreme and debilitating tinnitus. The condition seems to strike middle-aged people the most, but I have seen younger patients and even teenagers with tinnitus.
Much about this condition remains a mystery, but clinicians and researchers do know that loud noise can trigger tinnitus. Firearms, power tools, heavy machinery, MRI scans and blaring music from even a single rock concert are often the culprits. Just one loud noise exposure – what doctors call acoustic trauma – can kick-start tinnitus, although in most of those cases it’s temporary.
This is why many people in the military have tinnitus, perhaps acquired after exposure to loud gunfire or vehicular and aircraft noise. Indeed, more than 2.5 million veterans receive disability benefits for tinnitus.
Other factors that can cause or contribute to tinnitus include sinus infections, fevers, flu, emotional stress, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and some medications, like aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. When people stop drinking these beverages or taking the medications, the tinnitus typically resolves itself or, at least, is reduced.
Background noise often drowns out tinnitus, and many external sources will work. YouTube has many sound-generating videos that can help cancel out the uncomfortable sound, and some of these have black screens that will run all night. Free smartphone apps are available; for some people, air conditioners, fans, sound machines, television and radio can be effective at masking the tinnitus.
There are also sound-producing devices that fit in the ear to help counteract tinnitus. Programmed by an audiologist, these sound maskers emit a tone at the same pitch as the user’s tinnitus, helping to neutralize the internal sound. These devices are typically not covered by insurance carriers or Medicare.
For those with hearing loss, regular hearing aids may camouflage the tinnitus by bringing in background noise while at the same time helping patients hear.
Some types of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications work.
Another approach is cognitive behavioral therapy – that is, talk therapy. This particularly helps those with other conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, a history of concussion or other traumatic brain injury. By reducing this underlying stress, people can learn to live with it rather than fight against it.