What causes tinnitus?

Noise-induced hearing loss, the result of damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, is one of the most common causes of tinnitus.  

Other causes are usually the result of a number of health conditions, including:

  • Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis)
  • Ear and Sinus Infections
  • Earwax Blockage
  • Head and Neck Injuries
  • Diseases of the Heart or Blood Vessels
  • Ménière’s Disease
  • Medications
  • Brain Tumors
  • Hormonal Changes in Women
  • Thyroid Abnormalities

At NHHI, your audiologist will help you explore potential causes that are triggering your symptoms of tinnitus.


How common is tinnitus?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), roughly 10 percent of the U.S. adult population, or about 25 million Americans, has experienced tinnitus lasting at least five minutes in the past year.


What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external sound is actually present. It is a symptom (not a disease) indicating that something is wrong in the auditory system, which includes the ear, the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process sound. Because the function of the auditory nerve is to carry sound, when it is irritated from any cause, it produces head noise. This phenomenon is similar to the sensation nerves elsewhere. If one pinches the skin, it hurts because the stimulated nerves carry pain sensation.

Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears, but it can also sound like a roaring, clicking, hissing or buzzing. It can affect one or both ears.


Do you repair hearing aids?

Generally, we can fix most hearing aids made by most manufacturers. We cover basic repairs, including ear wax and debris removal within the hearing aids. Excess earwax and debris can cause damage to internal parts. With proper cleaning and care, these basic repairs can be avoided.

To learn more, check out our page on Hearing Aid Services.


How do you know which hearing aid is best for you?

If your hearing test reveals permanent hearing loss, your audiologist may recommend a hearing aid for one or both ears. Your audiologist will also explain what sounds you are not hearing and what a hearing aid (or hearing aids) can do to help. It is usually at this appointment that you will get to see and touch different styles of hearing aids.  In some cases, you may even be able to listen to a hearing aid. Your audiologist will help you choose the best hearing aid style, features, and level of sophistication based on your degree of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your financial circumstances. However, the final decision regarding which hearing aid to purchase is yours.

When selecting a hearing aid style, our audiologists consider the following factors to ensure you get the right hearing aid for your needs:

  • The degree of hearing loss (power requirements)
  • Manual dexterity and visual abilities
  • Patient budget
  • Cosmetics
  • Skin sensitivities
  • Anatomical/medical considerations

Do hearing aids work for everyone?

Whether or not a hearing aid will work for you usually depends on the type of hearing loss or the degree of hearing loss you may have.

To learn more, check out our page on Hearing Loss.


How can you protect your hearing from loud noise?

Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented with the use of custom hearing protection (e.g., earmolds and earplugs) and in limiting your exposure to loud sound levels.

Custom hearing protection helps to reduce the sound intensity, though, they do not block out sound completely.

If you are interested in custom hearing protection, contact us to set up an appointment.


How loud is too loud?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that noise exposure levels should not exceed 70 decibels (dB) over a 24-hour period, and 85 dB over a 1-hour period to avoid hearing impairment.

Check out Vital Signs’, “Too Loud! For Too Long!” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explaining how loud noises damage hearing.


What causes sudden hearing loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), sudden deafness, or sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), strikes one person per 5,000 every year, typically adults in their 40s and 50s. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) usually comes on suddenly and rapidly, and nine out of 10 people with SSHL lose hearing in one ear.

Unfortunately, most people who experience SSHL delay treatment or don’t seek treatment at all, because they think the condition is due to allergies, sinus infections or ear wax impaction. If you suspect you have SSHL, you should seek immediate medical care, because any delayed treatment could result in a permanent hearing loss.

About 80% of people diagnosed with SSHL do not have any identifiable cause. For the other 20%, causes have been attributed to secondary issues associated with primary illnesses or medical conditions, including:

  • Ototoxic Drugs (drugs that affect the sensory cells in the inner ear)
  • Autoimmune Diseases (such as Cogan’s Syndrome)
  • Trauma (head injury)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Blood Circulation Problems
  • Tumors (tumors on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain)
  • Neurologic Diseases and Disorders (such as Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Disorders of the Inner Ear (such as Ménière’s Disease)

If you suspect you may have SSHL, contact us today for a full evaluation.


What should you do if you think you have a hearing loss?

If you think you have a hearing loss, you should schedule an appointment to see one of our audiologists for a hearing test. Our hearing evaluations are very thorough and quick, usually taking no more than 20 minutes. We perform comprehensive hearing assessments for children 2.5 years and older, adults, and seniors.

Once completed, we will provide you with a complete report with interpretation of results and recommendations. We will also send a copy of the report to your physician.

To learn more, check out our page on Hearing Evaluations.