Tinnitus is a hearing condition in which a person hears noises such as buzzing or ringing in their ear when there is no actual stimulus in the person’s environment that is causing that sound. The phantom noises associated with tinnitus can occur in one ear or both. Also, some people hear noises constantly, and others may only hear them periodically.

Who is susceptible to tinnitus?

It is possible for anyone to get tinnitus. However, people who are elderly, who smoke, who are frequently exposed to loud noises, who take certain medications and who have high blood pressure can be particularly susceptible to tinnitus. Additionally, people who have higher than normal amounts of earwax can also have an increased susceptibility to tinnitus.

How many people have tinnitus?

Tinnitus is very common. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 15 percent of the population of the United States suffers from some degree of tinnitus. This translates to over 50 million people. Of these 50 million people, about 20 million have chronic tinnitus, and about two million have extreme cases that cause severe discomfort.

What type of health professional should you see for tinnitus?

It is common for people to first address their tinnitus with their general practitioner, or GP. However, if the general practitioner cannot fix the issue, then he or she may recommend that you see an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) or an audiologist. ENT doctors and audiologists are hearing and ear specialists. So, they can provide significantly more advanced treatments and remedies for your tinnitus that a GP can. 

What is the prognosis for tinnitus?

The prognosis for tinnitus can vary widely from patient to patient. In some cases, tinnitus can be relieved with a trip to the audiologist. This commonly happens when the cause is simply an earwax buildup. In such cases, the doctor can simply remove the earwax, and the problem can be completely solved. However, more complex cases can take weeks or even months to cure. Some tinnitus cases may be incurable, but there may be a number of things that a person can do to reduce the burden of it. For example, hearing aids can be very helpful in some cases for reducing tinnitus problems.

If you’re experiencing ringing in your ears or any other symptoms in line with tinnitus, contact an audiologist in your area to have your condition evaluated and get the treatment you need!