According to the American Tinnitus Association, or ATA, over 45 million Americans have tinnitus. The condition can lead to a constant ringing in the ears. Over time, the problem can worsen. If you suspect you have tinnitus, here is what you need to know.
What Causes Tinnitus?
In some instances, the development of tinnitus is linked to other health conditions. For instance, temporomandibular joint problems, the presence of noncancerous tumors on the cranial nerve, and Meniere's disease can all lead to tinnitus.
However, in most cases, the hearing problem is not linked to other health conditions. For some people, it is the result of changes to the ear bone or earwax blockage. Some experience it due to exposure to loud noise.
As with many other conditions, it can also be related to growing older. Tinnitus is more common in older people and can grow worse as a person ages.
Is It Preventable?
Some factors that increase your chances of developing tinnitus cannot be influenced. For instance, men are more likely to have the hearing problem than women. However, there are some factors you can influence.
For instance, tinnitus is more likely to develop for people who listen to loud music for extended periods of time. By simply turning down the music, you could lower your risk.
If you work in an extremely loud workplace, protecting your ears can help. The use of earplugs can help. If possible, limit the amount of time that you are exposed to loud noises while working.
Is It Treatable?
How your doctor approaches the treatment for tinnitus depends on the reason for it. For instance, if you have earwax blockage, removing it will help to alleviate or reduce the ringing.
If there is not an underlying medical condition that is causing the condition, your doctor could focus on suppressing the symptoms. For instance, hearing aids can be fitted to help reduce the ringing and improve your overall hearing.
There is also the possibility that retraining your ears to help mask the frequencies of the ringing can help. You will need to wear a device to help with the retraining. It could take weeks or months for the treatment to work.
Talk to your ear doctor about your symptoms as soon as possible. Since the condition can progress, you want to receive treatment in the earliest stages to increase the likelihood that your doctor can slow its progress.