Non-Urgent Tinnitus Needing Hearing Tests
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What is non-urgent tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing noises in your ears when there are no sounds present in the environment. The sounds you hear may be loud or soft and can be steady or intermittent. The noise is often described as a ringing, tinkling, roaring, whistling, hissing, or buzzing.
Tinnitus occurs when nerves within the ear are damaged by prolonged exposure to loud noise or to certain drugs. The disrupted activity in the nerves causes them to overreact and produce the unwanted sounds. When nerves are damaged enough to cause tinnitus, there will also be some degree of hearing loss. It's very common, especially as you get older.
Causes of tinnitus include diseases of the eustachian tube or ear or it may be caused by underlying diseases such as allergy, high blood pressure, heart disease, and anemia. Hearing loss from an infection can also cause tinnitus, as can a blockage of the ear canal with earwax or with a foreign object.
Tinnitus can also be caused by an Injury to the head or neck and some medicines such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and sedatives.
You should see a doctor right away, especially if you have a blockage. If a blockage is causing the tinnitus, your doctor can remove it, which usually treats the tinnitus. If you have an ear infection, treating it also usually gets. If you have underlying conditions, your doctor will treat them.
Your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or an audiologist, who can do a hearing test.
Tinnitus is not serious in itself, but can interfere with quality of life. There are treatments that can help with the discomfort it causes.
If the cause is unknown, self-help measures can help you cope with the noise. These include avoiding exposure to loud noises, ensuring your blood pressure is in normal range, decreasing salt intake, and exercising to improve your circulation.
Some people mask the noises with other sounds, such as “white noise” tapes or steady sounds such as a ticking clock. Using a hearing aid to amplify environmental sounds can also help mask the tinnitus.