According to CDC estimates, constant high-pitched ringing, buzzing, or humming are among the most common ways, more than 50 million people describe tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a symptom of an issue somewhere along the hearing pathway and is among the early warning signs of hearing loss. Without treatment, tinnitus will only get worse. Still, by raising awareness of the condition and what can be done to treat it, I want to provide hope to Silicon Valley residents who seek solutions to the constant ringing in their ears. 

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term used to describe constant noise or ringing that occurs even when there is no external sound.

Those with tinnitus describe the sound as coming from inside their head, which is absolutely true because it is sound manufactured by your brain. What various individuals with tinnitus hear can vary with each case from whooshing, buzzing, humming, or ringing, and it can be a steady or pulsing tone.

Although the exact cause is not clear, many researchers believe that the brain creates these sounds because of some damage along the hearing pathway that blocks hearing certain high-frequency sounds.

The Vicious Cycle of Tinnitus

When individuals first become aware of tinnitus, it can be infrequent and relatively mild.

However, as its intensity increases, the condition often increases stress and can even cause a person to grind their teeth or clench their jaw involuntarily.

These actions lead to headaches, neck and jaw pain, and increased stress. Increased stress adds to the intensity of the condition, which increases stress levels with each part of the cycle building upon and adding to the other in a vicious cycle.

Two Types of Tinnitus

Tinnitus can present itself in either of two types: objective (pulsatile) or subjective (non-pulsatile).

Objective tinnitus, described as a noise that sounds a lot like a heartbeat or pulse, is the least common form of tinnitus. Its cause usually relates to the individual hearing normal or abnormal blood flow from the vessels in and around the ears or can be associated with a growth or tumor as well as increased pressure on the brain.

This type of tinnitus can also be detected by an audiologist and is easily treated through medical intervention.

Subjective tinnitus can only be heard by the individual with the condition. A constant or steady noise characterizes this more common type. Subjective tinnitus is often associated with high-frequency hearing loss, but people with normal hearing can also have tinnitus, making it challenging to identify the specific cause.

Additional causes for subjective tinnitus can include fluid in the ears, an acoustic neuroma (rare), or Meniere’s disease. Because of the difficulty of identifying its specific cause, this type of tinnitus can be challenging to treat.

Tinnitus Treatment

Treating tinnitus begins with a diagnostic hearing evaluation, which includes an understanding of your medical history, injuries, medications, and lifestyle.

When hearing loss is a contributing factor, many cases of tinnitus disappear through the use of hearing aids or other hearing loss treatment processes. When hearing loss is not part of the equation, tinnitus treatment involves a holistic approach designed to accomplish several objectives such as:

  • Reducing stress and emotional reaction to the condition
  • Reducing attention to the condition (habituation)
  • Reducing how the condition impacts day-to-day activities
  • Sound masking

Pacific Hearing Service Takes an Individualized Approach to Tinnitus Treatment

Our focus at Pacific Hearing Service is to customize tinnitus treatment to the specific needs of each individual. We have plenty of methodologies and tools to choose from. Still, one of our most powerful tools comes from educating our patients, which makes our sound-based therapies, medical and psychological interventions, and alternative treatments far more effective.

Contact us to learn more about tinnitus or contact the Pacific Hearing Service location nearest you to schedule a tele-audiology consultation or a tinnitus evaluation, designed under proper CDC protocols to ensure your health and safety.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Deborah Clark, Au.D.

Dr. Deborah Clark has been with Pacific Hearing Service since 1998. In January 2008, she became co-owner working first in the Menlo Park office and now managing the Los Altos office. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and is certified by the American Board of Audiology. She was on the board of the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association from 2010 – 2013, and served as Vice President.