It’s not uncommon to experience ringing in your ear. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus affects 15%-20% of people. But tinnitus itself isn’t a disease, but a symptom that indicates something else is going on.

At Hearing & Balance Services of Reston, we want you to know the signs of tinnitus so you can get the help you need to alleviate the strange sounds occurring in your ear.

The bothersome symptoms of tinnitus

Typically, tinnitus causes you to hear sounds that only you can hear, which can be both bothersome and troublesome. The phantom noises you may hear with tinnitus include:

  • Ringing
  • Humming
  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring

The severity of these sounds may range from a low-level noise to a high-pitched squeal. The sound may occur in one or both ears. In some cases, the bothersome noises you hear may be so loud you may not be able to focus on the real sounds around you.

It’s possible to develop tinnitus after a respiratory infection, and these symptoms may go away on their own. However, if you continue to hear phantom noises for a week or more, it’s time to schedule an evaluation to find out what’s going on.

Finding the underlying cause

Tinnitus is rarely a symptom of a serious health condition, but finding the underlying cause of the ringing and buzzing helps direct treatment. Tinnitus is categorized as one of two types:

Subjective tinnitus

Tinnitus that only you can hear is referred to as subjective tinnitus. These types of phantom sounds may be caused by a problem with your outer, middle, or inner ear, or problems with your hearing nerves or the portion of your brain that processes sound.

Objective tinnitus

With objective tinnitus, we can hear the same sounds you hear during an auditory evaluation. This type of tinnitus is usually caused by a problem with the blood vessels, bones, or muscles in your ear.

Subjective tinnitus is more common than objective tinnitus.

At Hearing & Balance Services of Reston, we conduct comprehensive evaluations that include audiometric testing to identify the type of tinnitus you have and the underlying cause.

Relief from the ringing

It may feel as though the phantom sounds you hear are taking over your life, but there are many effective treatment options to help you get relief from the ringing and roaring. At Hearing & Balance Services of Reston, we find that most people with tinnitus have some amount of hearing loss. Because we specialize in hearing aids, we offer the most advanced devices available and can help you find one that improves your hearing and alleviates your tinnitus.

We may also suggest tinnitus maskers to help you get relief from your symptoms. These devices work by providing a type of white noise that blocks the ringing, buzzing, or humming. Because phantom noises can lead to anxiety, we may also suggest anti-anxiety medication and counseling. We may also talk to you about relaxation techniques to help you learn to ignore the tinnitus.

Our audiologist also offers a comprehensive program we refer to as neuromonics tinnitus therapy, which is an intensive six-month program that includes a combination of testing, counseling, and specialized tinnitus maskers. The program is highly effective at reducing your response to the tinnitus and has the best success rate of all the treatment options.

Phantom sounds can make you feel as though you’re going crazy. But tinnitus can be diagnosed and treated. For a comprehensive evaluation from an audiology specialist, contact Professional Hearing Aid Service today.