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Is Tinnitus a Sign of Hearing Loss?

Whenever we notice a difference in the quality of our hearing, it’s natural to wonder if it’s a sign of hearing loss or if it’s just a temporary change.  One of the most common conditions we are asked about is tinnitus and its links to hearing loss. While tinnitus doesn’t lead to hearing loss, it can be a symptom of some types of hearing loss.  In today’s post, we break down what tinnitus is, the common causes of it, and what treatment options are available. For more information or to schedule a hearing test, contact Audio Recovery today at 405-949-1906.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is most commonly described as hearing a sound that has no external source.  That is, hearing a ringing, buzzing, humming, or other sound, but you are the only one that is able to hear it.  It can be constant or sporadic, high pitched or low pitched, and be present in different ears at different times.  It is fairly common for someone to experience tinnitus as some point in their lives, as a 2014 study found it affected more than 10% of the American population.

What Causes Tinnitus

Tinnitus can be caused by several different things.  Certain medications such as anti-inflammatories like aspirin or ibuprofen, antibiotics, or anti-depressants, can cause tinnitus while taking them or after you stop taking them.  Temporary tinnitus can present itself after exposure to a loud noise, such as a live concert. Another possible cause is any health condition that affects your inner ears or interferes with your brain’s ability to interpret sounds.  Finally, tinnitus can be caused by inner ear damage.

Is Tinnitus Linked to Hearing Loss?

Tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, but it can be a symptom of age-related hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss.  Our sense of hearing is made possible by little hair-like cells in our inner ears.  When sound waves enter the ear, they stimulate these cells, which turn the sound waves into electrical impulses that travel to the brain, where they are interpreted as sounds.  However, if those cells are damaged, it can cause issues with the brain’s ability to interpret the impulses, or cause the brain to work harder to try and make sense of the impulses.  The result is a misfire of sorts that causes the creation of false sounds that is referred to as tinnitus.

How Can You Treat Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can often be managed and treated.  Your first step should be a visit to an audiologist to receive a hearing exam.  This helps them to determine the cause of your tinnitus and if there are other hearing factors that are causing problems.  If the tinnitus is caused by medications or some other health factor, treating those factors can often eliminate the tinnitus.  If, however, the tinnitus is caused by inner ear damage, a hearing aid or white noise machine might be a better option, as it can counteract or mask the ringing your tinnitus causes.

If you are currently suffering from tinnitus, don’t wait to get treatment for it.  While this is a common condition, it’s one that doesn’t have to affect your life or your quality of hearing.  Since 1984, Audio Recovery has been providing Oklahoma City with treatment and care for all aspects of hearing loss and problems.  Give us a call at 405-949-1906 to schedule an appointment at our center, or schedule an appointment online at any time.  We’d love to meet with you and provide you with the care and support you deserve.