Ringing in Ear

Ringing in ear, technically known as tinnitus, affects about 50 million Americans according to the American Tinnitus Association. In some cases, the ringing in the ear is more of an annoyance than anything else. For about 12 million people, though, the condition is severe enough that they seek medical help for it.

Tinnitus is not always a ringing in ear sound. Sometimes itís a buzzing, hissing or clicking sound instead. The intensity of the sound may vary from time to time. People may have periods when they donít experience the ringing sound and other times when it occurs.

Itís difficult to prevent ringing in the ear. Sometimes doctors can identify the cause, but then itís often caused by things like an aneurysm or tumor that cannot usually be prevented. Many times doctors donít know what causes the condition, which makes it hard to prevent.

Experts suggest the best thing you can do to prevent tinnitus is to always wear ear protection when youíre around loud noises, like chainsaws, noisy factory equipment or firearms. They also say you should limit your exposure to very loud music, like at rock concerts.

Ringing in ear does not always require treatment. However, in severe cases, the constant noise prevents people from sleeping at night. People may become irritable, anxious or depressed. They may have trouble concentrating at work or school. If your tinnitus causes a lot of problems for you, you should see a doctor to discuss treatment options.

Unfortunately, the condition is often difficult to treat. Sometimes doctors can pinpoint a physical cause of the ringing in the ear. High blood pressure may force blood through the vessels in the ear very rapidly, creating a roaring sound. Disorders of the blood vessels, like aneurysms (bulging veins), can cause tinnitus. Doctors can treat high blood pressure with medication and aneurysms must be corrected with surgery.

Experts frequently suggest using white noise machines or machines that play environmental noises like falling rain or ocean waves to help drown out the ringing in ear from the tinnitus. These techniques help some people but not all.

Doctors sometimes prescribe medications like tricyclic antidepressants or xanax to treat ringing in ear but these donít work in all cases and they can cause troubling side effects. Common side effects of tricyclic antidepressants include drowsiness, nausea, constipation, weight gain (sometimes quite a bit of weight gain), headaches and a rapid heartbeat. In addition, xanax is habit forming.

Some people with tinnitus seek counseling to deal with the emotional strain of living with the condition day in and day out. Support groups with other people that suffer from the condition can help, too. Sometimes people with tinnitus need medication to help them sleep or anti-anxiety medication to deal with the stress of living with the disorder.

See a doctor right away if you develop ringing in the ear after a head injury or if the tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms like confusion, loss of coordination or difficulty with speech. If you didnít have a head injury and donít have any other symptoms, you should still see a doctor if the ringing sound causes you a lot of distress.

More about ringing in ear treatment on our tinnitus cures page

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