Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. Anatomically, tinnitus usually originates from damage to the hair cells located within the organ of hearing, the cochlea. Because there is damage to the cochlea and sometimes accompanying hearing loss, the brain tries to compensate for the lack of auditory input by creating a sound and the perception of tinnitus. Tinnitus can sound like ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, swooshing, cricket/cicada sounds, or clicking noises. Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom that is typically related to the auditory system. It is a common issue that affects nearly 15% or over 50 million Americans (US Centers for Disease Control), yet only 10% of these individuals seek medical attention.

Common causes of tinnitus can be noise damage, age related hearing loss, conditions of the ear, certain medications, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), sinus pressure and barometric trauma, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Some common difficulties associated with tinnitus include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Annoyance or irritation
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Despair and frustration
  • Problems focusing on speech
  • Concentration difficulties

Tinnitus can be exacerbated by some lifestyle choices, including but not limited to:

  • Caffeinated foods and beverages
  • Excessive use of salt
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Nicotine
  • Noise exposure
  • Stress
  • Teeth grinding
  • Neck or cervical problems

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