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Living with Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a condition that affects 50 million people in the United States. To describe it, people often say it’s “ringing in the ears” which is misleading since this condition includes any noise that seems to originate in the ear or head.

This “noise” is usually an indication of some damage to your auditory system and can be constant or periodic, and seem to come from specific sides of your head (as in left, right, center, etc.).

Many things such as loud noise, certain medications (including aspirin!), earwax or any foreign body in the external ear can lead to tinnitus. In very rare situations, it can be a symptom of an aneurysm or brain tumor (acoustic tumor).

Can you treat tinnitus?
There is no specific treatment for tinnitus. And although in many cases it’s not serious, it can be an indication of a bigger problem so please see a hearing professional.

Occasionally, a hearing professional will identify the cause of the noise and treat it. But even if this doesn’t happen, it’s important to know that there are methods that can help you live with tinnitus like hearing aids, which help by bringing more sound to the brain, thus distracting attention from the ringing.

Can tinnitus be prevented?
Absolutely. For the most part, just a little common sense can prevent tinnitus:

  • Careful when using cotton swabs to clean your ear. Pushing the wax into the inner ear canal can cause a wax impaction against your eardrum which can lead to tinnitus.
  • Take blood pressure medicines and other prescribed medications as they are ordered by your doctor.
  • If you work in a noisy environment, protect your hearing when necessary with ear plugs or earmuffs.
  • When around any noise that bothers your ears (a concert, sporting event, hunting), again, wear hearing protection. Even everyday noises that come from blow dryers or lawnmowers can require protection!

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