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Tinnitus Columbia

man with Tinnitus (ringing in ears) places his hand next to the side of his headTinnitus is when you constantly or frequently hear a sound that others can’t or don’t hear. Sometimes these are real sounds produced within your body, but other times there is no real sound. Instead, the brain or nerves create the sensation of sound. Most sufferers describe it as ringing in ears.

Tinnitus has many potential causes. Some of these causes are not currently treatable. However, one cause is highly treatable: temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD). If TMJ is causing the ringing in your ears, Columbia, SC, TMJ dentist Dr. Adam Hahn can help you get relief: either a reduction or complete elimination of tinnitus.

What Is Tinnitus?

If you have tinnitus, you hear sounds that other people can’t. Although the condition is often called “ringing in the ear,” people report many different types of sounds, including whistling, clicking, roaring, buzzing, hissing, and humming. The sound may be constant or rhythmic, or come and go.

Sometimes doctors divide tinnitus into objective and subjective types. In objective tinnitus, people might not normally hear the sound you’re hearing, but with equipment (such as a stethoscope), a doctor can hear or otherwise measure the sound. In subjective, doctors cannot find the source of the sound. In general, objective tinnitus is more likely to be treatable.

What Causes Ringing In Your Ears?

Tinnitus is a frequent symptom linked to numerous conditions. Some of the most common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Hearing loss:  People with hearing loss often experience tinnitus. This may be due to damaged ear structures or the brain is trying to fill in for the missing sounds it no longer hears. This often leads to tinnitus in both ears.
  • Ear infection or ear canal blockage: Ear infections and ear canal blockage can cause pressure changes in the ear that cause sounds. This more commonly leads to tinnitus in one ear.
  • Head or neck injuries: These injuries can damage your ear, the nerves that carry signals from the ear to the brain, or the brain itself. These most often lead to tinnitus in one ear.
  • Medications: Many medications can cause tinnitus. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin are the most common drugs with this side effect, but there are many with this side effect. Ask your doctor about your prescriptions.
  • TMJ: Temporomandibular joint disorders impact the ear because the joint is next to the ear. Joint damage can cause sounds you hear or lead to ear damage that creates phantom sounds. In addition, many people have ligaments linking the jaw to ear structures.
  • Ménière’s disease: Ménière’s disease is an inner ear condition where fluid buildup in the compartments of the inner ear impacts your balance and hearing.
  • Tumors: The growth of tumors around the ear can affect the function of ear structures. Although these tumors are normally benign, their impact on balance and hearing can be serious.
  • Vascular disorders: Sometimes, abnormal structures, growths, or functions of the blood vessels near the ear can cause tinnitus.

With these numerous potential causes, it can sometimes be difficult to track down the true cause of your tinnitus. People with tinnitus often go through long periods of trial-and-error treatments only to be told that there is no treatment for their condition.

Tinnitus Symptoms and Diagnosis

The primary symptom of tinnitus is the sound you hear. However, people sometimes experience other ear-related symptoms, such as:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ear fullness
  • Ear pain
  • Dizziness or vertigo

These can help identify the cause.

If you experience tinnitus, talk to your primary care doctor. They will check for common causes, such as ear blockage or infection, head injuries, and medications. If they can’t identify the cause of tinnitus, they may refer you to an otolaryngologist (also called an ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT).

An ENT will evaluate your hearing and may order imaging such as ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or CT (computed tomography) to help track down the cause of tinnitus.

Treatment Options

Tinnitus treatment can be challenging. Many Columbia, SC, specialists can provide treatments, including:

  • Treatment of underlying condition: If a doctor can trace the ringing in your ears to another condition, treatment of that condition should reduce or eliminate tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids: When the ringing in your ears is linked to hearing loss, supplementing your hearing can drown out sounds.
  • Sound generators: Generating sounds can also sometimes help to make the ringing less intrusive. These might be integrated into your hearing aid, portable devices, or tabletop devices.
  • Psychological therapy: When there are no good treatments, a psychologist can help you develop strategies to reduce the negative impact of the condition on your quality of life.

In addition, you can try several lifestyle changes to make living with tinnitus easier. This includes:

  • Getting more exercise: Exercise can reduce stress and help control conditions contributing to the ringing in your ears, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Socialization: Socialization can combat stress (which aggravates it) and feelings of isolation (often caused by it).
  • Find relaxing hobbies: Although tinnitus can disrupt some hobbies, other hobbies can help mask the ringing and its other effects.
  • Natural remedies: No good natural remedies are proven to combat the ringing sound in your ears. However, many natural remedies can help you combat stress. Talk to your doctor about which of these might be right for you.

Lifestyle changes work best as adjunctive therapy in support of treatments provided by your doctor. At a minimum, consult with your doctor before making lifestyle changes.

Is TMJ Causing Your Tinnitus?

If your tinnitus is related to TMJ, TMJ treatment can effectively reduce or eliminate it. However, doctors often don’t know enough about TMJ to refer you to a TMJ dentist. You should consult a TMJ dentist if any of the following are true:

  • Flares up after intense jaw activity
  • Changes when you move your jaw
  • You have other TMJ treatments

Don’t forget that jaw activity might be intense at night due to nighttime clenching and grinding. Suspect TMJ if you wake up with ringing in your ears, especially if it occurs alongside jaw or tooth pain. TMJ symptoms include many other ear symptoms, including vertigo, ear fullness, and ear pain.

Get Tinnitus Relief in Columbia, SC

Are you suffering from tinnitus? Although your doctor might tell you there’s no treatment available for you and suggest coping mechanisms, you should not accept that until you’ve talked to a TMJ dentist. Columbia, SC, TMJ dentist Dr. Adam Hahn has helped many people who were told by their doctors that there was no cure.

Please call (803) 781-9090 today or email Smile Columbia Dentistry today for an appointment.