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Tinnitus is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears”. It refers to hearing a noise in one or both ears when no external sound is present in the environment. This noise is often described as a ringing, buzzing, or clicking-like noise that ranges in severity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 50 million people experience tinnitus and 20 million people live with chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus can impact daily life in significant ways by taking a toll on sleep, mood, and overall wellness. It can also contribute to hearing challenges which strains communication. Though there are no cures for tinnitus, there are useful ways that it is managed, providing relief and reducing its impact on daily life.



Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition. Because so many medical conditions can produce tinnitus as a symptom, it can be challenging to identify and diagnose. According to the American Tinnitus Association, nearly 200 health issues can produce tinnitus as a symptom. Common causes include the following: 


The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss. It is estimated that 90% of all cases of tinnitus occur with underlying hearing loss. Hearing loss can be caused by several factors – aging, exposure to loud noise, medical conditions, head injuries, etc. What often happens is hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. These sensory cells play a critical role in how sound is processed. They convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals which are then sent to the brain to be further processed. Hearing loss causes auditory pathways in the brain to not receive the auditory information they anticipate from the cochlea. This can cause the brain to “turn the volume up” on those pathways in an attempt to locate a signal. This produces a noise which is what we call tinnitus.


Another cause of tinnitus includes ear obstructions. This refers to substances or physical blockages that prevent sound from reaching the inner ear. Ear obstructions include a build-up of earwax, bone growth, a tear on the eardrum, or other substances that can accumulate in the ear. This restricts sound from being fully absorbed and traveling through the ear canal to the inner ear where sound is further processed. This can lead to hearing difficulties as well as tinnitus.


There are different types of inner ear disorders including Meniere’s disease which results from an accumulation of fluid when fluid in the cochlea. This produces different symptoms including pressure in the ears, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Other health conditions that can cause tinnitus include temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), autoimmune conditions, head injuries, hyperthyroidism, and specific types of medications.


Fortunately, there are useful ways that tinnitus can be effectively managed. A few common treatment options include:
  1. Treating hearing loss: because hearing loss is such a common trigger of tinnitus, it is important to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests are painless and involve measuring your hearing capacities in both ears. The most common way hearing loss is treated is with hearing aids – electronic devices designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. Hearing aids alleviate symptoms including tinnitus and many of today’s devices offer tinnitus-masking features.
  2. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): this is a type of sound therapy that involves using deep relaxation and de-stressing exercises to train the brain to interpret tinnitus differently. Rather than an unpleasant and bothersome sound, TRT trains the brain to perceive tinnitus as mundane background noise.
  3. Sound machines: creating ambient noise is a useful way to mask tinnitus. It distracts the individual from focusing on tinnitus sounds, alleviating its impact. This can be achieved by using sound or white noise machines as well as downloading apps that play soft background noises.
How is TInnitus Managed

If you are experiencing tinnitus, it is important to have your hearing health assessed. Treating tinnitus can profoundly improve your health and wellness. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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