Expert, Dr. Katie Miller, discuses all things ringing in the ears.

What Is Tinnitus and Is It Treatable? Dr. Katie Miller Answers

by | May 30, 2023 | Hearing Health, Patient Resources, Tinnitus

Tinnitus — that annoying ringing noise in your ears — can be hard to understand, so we’ve asked Clarity Hearing’s audiologist, Dr. Katie Miller, more about it, as Dr. Katie is our expert on everything to do with ringing in the ears.

What’s the medical term for ringing in the ears?

There are two pronunciations for tinnitus, the first one being TIN-ih-tus, which clinicians and researchers mostly use. The second one, pronounced tin-EYE-tus, is more common in the general population, but either one is acceptable.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a blanket term for any sound that someone hears without an external source. It can be described as many things, the most common being ringing, but it can be described as other things too, such as whooshing, roaring, crickets, clicking, and buzzing.

Essentially, it could be any noise that somebody hears inside their head.

How common is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is fairly common, affecting about 15% of the US population, which comes out to be around 50 million Americans. Of those, about 20 million have bothersome or burdensome tinnitus, and 2 million have debilitating or very extreme cases of tinnitus.

What are the most common causes of tinnitus?

There are many different things that can cause tinnitus, however, you should know that tinnitus is a symptom of some other underlying condition rather than a condition itself.

The most common link has been hearing loss, with about 80% of the people reporting tinnitus also having a coinciding hearing loss.

The other more common things that cause tinnitus include obstructions in the outer or middle ear – such as a wax buildup or a fluid buildup from an ear infection.

It can also be caused by head and neck trauma, temporomandibular joint issues (TMJ), traumatic brain injury, and sinus pressure. Stress and anxiety can make it worse too.

Something else to note is that most of the time, you have tinnitus or ringing in both ears. If you are noticing it in just one ear, I recommend seeing an ear, nose, and throat physician in your area to rule out anything serious.

Book a tinnitus assessment

Does loud noise cause tinnitus?

Yes, one thing that can really spike the volume of someone’s tinnitus is noise exposure. I have tinnitus myself, and I like to go to concerts. I have definitely noticed that my tinnitus is louder when I leave a concert, especially if I’ve forgotten to wear my hearing protection.

This can happen with any type of noise exposure, including working with power tools or lawn mowing, so it’s important to remember to wear your hearing protection whenever you find yourself in those types of environments.

Does stress or worry make things any worse?

Stress or the anxiety of hearing the tinnitus can make it sound louder or happen more frequently.

Are there things I can do to make tinnitus go away or soften it?

There are many things that Clarity Hearing can do for tinnitus management. By finding and treating the underlying cause, we can often reduce either the number of times you hear the tinnitus or your perception of its loudness.

Some ways to help manage or reduce the tinnitus include:

  • Treating the hearing loss
  • Managing stress and anxiety
  • Keeping up with proper sleep and following a healthy diet
  • Sometimes even meditation and yoga can help
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to work really well too – this can be done with any psychologist,
  • psychiatrist, or other mental health professional

If I have tinnitus and it bothers me, what should I do?

The first thing to do would be to schedule a tinnitus assessment, and if you’re in the Houston area, you can schedule an appointment with us for that.

We’ll go over your medical history and ask about your tinnitus – when it started, the sounds you hear, how often it occurs, and how it affects daily life. We’ll also look for any sign of impaction in your ears and test your hearing. This should give us a good idea of the underlying cause.

How will you treat my tinnitus?

Once we’ve found the cause, we can treat it.

  • If you have a hearing loss, we’ll start with hearing treatment, which can sometimes make tinnitus
  • symptoms disappear altogether.
  • If it’s a medical issue, we’ll refer you to a specialist for that condition.
  • If your tinnitus persists, we can begin a management plan to help you reclaim your life.

We’re here to help you manage your tinnitus.

Contact us with any questions. We look forward to helping.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Scott Marquardt - Doctor of Audiology & CEO of Clarity Hearing

Scott Marquardt is the owner of Clarity Hearing and a highly skilled audiologist who has been in practice for over 20 years. Dr. Marquardt earned a master’s degree in audiology from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and a doctorate from A.T. Still University. He is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. He and the team offer comprehensive hearing healthcare services and specialize in the care of tinnitus, imbalance, and auditory processing disorders.

    Request a Callback

    Have a question for our leading audiologists? Complete this form and we'll call you back at a convenient time

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.