Conditions & Treatments > Ear & Balance > Tinnitus
Tinnitus means noise or "ringing" in the ears.
Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus.
More than 7 million people are afflicted so severely that they cannot lead normal lives.
Tinnitus may be intermittent or it may be continuous.
Most tinnitus comes from damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear.
Advancing age is generally accompanied by a certain amount of hearing nerve impairment and tinnitus.
If you are younger, exposure to loud noise (rock concerts, personal stereo with headphones, "boom boxes") is the most likely cause of tinnitus, and often damages hearing as well.
Treatment will be different for each case of tinnitus, depending upon the cause.
It is important to see an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) to investigate the cause of your tinnitus so that the best treatment can be determined.
In most cases, there is no specific treatment for ear and head noise.
If your otolaryngologist finds a specific cause of your tinnitus, he or she may be able to eliminate the noise.
Extensive testing including X-rays, balance tests, and laboratory work may be necessary.
Finally, the precise cause of the tinnitus may not be determined.
Occasionally, medicine may help the noise. The medications used are varied, several may be tried to see if they help, and there may be significant side effects.
The following can help lessen the severity of your tinnitus:
Avoid exposure to loud sounds and noises.
Get your blood pressure checked. If it is high, get your doctor's help to control it.
Decrease your intake of salt. Salt impairs blood circulation.
Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and tobacco.
Exercise daily to improve your circulation.
Get adequate rest and avoid fatigue.
Stop worrying about the noise. Recognize your head noise as an annoyance and learn to ignore it as much as possible.
Concentration and relaxation exercises can help to control muscle groups and circulation throughout the body and decrease the tinnitus in some patients.
If you have tinnitus or head noise, it is extremely important that you have a thorough examination and evaluation by an otolaryngologist. An essential part of your treatment will be your understanding of tinnitus and its causes.