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Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a common affliction often associated with hearing loss. Others describe it as resembling a hiss, roar, whoosh, whistle, or buzz.

It is characterized as a symptom and not a disease, and while there is no cure, understanding the underlying cause is integral in coming up with a treatment solution.

There are Different Types of Tinnitus

Most tinnitus is nonpulsatile in nature. That is, the ringing or buzzing is random. Pulsatile tinnitus, on the other hand, appears to keep rhythm with the pulse or heartbeat. This type is rare. Tinnitus is also classified as subjective, meaning only the patient can hear it, or objective, in which case another person (usually a doctor) is able to hear the same sounds the patient is experiencing. Like nonpulsatile tinnitus, this form is uncommon.

There are many different conditions that can cause tinnitus. These include hearing loss related to natural aging, excessive noise exposure, impacted earwax, otoscelerosis, ear infections, head or neck trauma, Meniere’s disease, TMJ, thyroid conditions, acoustic neuroma, ototoxic medications, vascular conditions, and high blood pressure. Any treatment plan should focus on the cause of your symptoms.

Treating Tinnitus

Tinnitus severely impacts the lives of many individuals who must put up with “phantom noise” throughout the day (and night). This understandably causes frustration and affects their quality of life. A permanent cure remains elusive for now, but there are treatment solutions, primarily masking techniques designed to train the brain into “tuning out” tinnitus.

Noise suppression therapy includes white noise supplied by machines that feature a variety of natural background sounds, air conditioners, fans and humidifiers. Tinnitus retraining devices are similar in concept but rely on musical tones or pulses.