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What is Tinnitus?

What is that ringing in your ears? It could be a condition called tinnitus. See your doctor if you notice a ringing that wasn’t there before.

Tinnitus is more commonly known as ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is a symptom of several conditions. Think of it as being similar to the sounds you hear when you hold a seashell up to your ear. You hear the ocean as if it were a swishing sound. Some people who report ringing in the ears hear a similar sound.

Ringing can arise from any area of the ear. After a loud rock concert you may hear ringing in your ears. Ear infections can cause ringing or swishing sounds in the ear as the middle ear fills up with fluid. Even something as simple as having too much ear wax in your ears can cause ringing sounds.

Start with common explanations for the sound. It could be that your iPod volume is too loud and over time, tinnitus had become an issue. In quiet places, you hear sounds in your head that you couldn’t hear before because of other noises. This is normal.

If the tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be something that a doctor needs to diagnose and treat. People who suffer from Meniere’s disease suffer dizziness and ringing in the ears. Ears that are red and painful along with the ringing may signal a problem with the middle ear. Ringing is also heard by people at the beginning stages of a hearing loss due to aging or exposure to loud noises on a constant basis. In rare cases, the ringing in your ears could be caused by a tumor somewhere in your ear.

Your doctor can evaluate your tinnitus and let you know if it is a symptom of a much larger problem. Start by giving your doctor a detailed explanation of what you have been experiencing. Let him know if the ringing is accompanied by other changes.

Next, your doctor will give you a hearing test. He can measure if there is any hearing loss associated with your tinnitus. You could also be tested using an MRI, a CT scan or an ABR. An ABR (auditory brain stem response) looks at the hearing pathway in your head to see if there are any problems there.

For many people with tinnitus, there may be no viable treatment. The condition is annoying, but when it is not a symptom of anything serious, you may have to learn to deal with it. Since tinnitus is a symptom, when the underlying problem (such as Meniere’s disease or ear infection) is treated, the tinnitus simply goes away in time.

Are you suffering from ringing in the ears? This is a condition called tinnitus. Often it is not serious - just very annoying to those experiencing it.

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