Most of us have experience tinnitus at one point or another. Tinnitus is a ringing in the ear that only the sufferer can hear. And while it may seem obvious that it is coming from the inner ear, the truth, is in fact, much more complex.
Medical site WebMD defines tinnitus as “the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds” in the ear. It can be intermittent or continuous and can vary in volume. Tinnitus is often more noticeable when your environment is quiet, or there is minimal background noise, such as when you are trying to fall asleep.
Ringing From Where?
Although tinnitus is ringing in the ear, it is coming from the brain. Tinnitus occurs when the brain thinks it hears a sound that is not really there; sort of like a “phantom” noise (like an itch on a phantom limb).
In fact, scientific research and studies have shown that operating on the inner ear or hearing nerve doesn’t, in fact, cure tinnitus. The NIH published results stating that only 40% of tinnitus study participants found any improvement from surgery.
Causes and Concerns
Tinnitus is in fact quite common with nearly 50 million adults experiencing it. Luckily, for most, it is an annoyance and not a severe condition. Unfortunately, for some, tinnitus is an extreme, chronic condition that negatively affects many aspects their life.
There are many theories about what causes tinnitus, but no definitive explanation. Many theories purport it can be caused or triggered by exposure to loud noises. For example, the day after you attend a loud rock concert, your ears are probably ringing. This is an example of “annoyance” tinnitus, which will resolve on its own. If you are experiencing extreme tinnitus without an obvious “trigger,” you should contact an ENT Doctor right away for help.
Located in Boise, Southwest Idaho ENT is the area’s only comprehensive center for ear, nose and throat specialty care. Contact us at (208) 367-3320 today!