Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

How Do I Combat Tinnitus?

Thursday, 08 July 2010 02:01 PM

Question: My wife has had severe noises in her ears for several years. I have read every book and pamphlet that I can find. They all say something causes ringing in ears, but none know any method to reduce the problem. Do you have any suggestions?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

There are so many causes of tinnitus (noises in the ear) that there are ear, nose and throat surgeons specializing in tinnitus management. While simple obstruction of our ear canals with wax or infection can cause tinnitus, middle and inner ear conditions can also cause annoying or even disabling noises in our ears. Aneurisms of neighboring blood vessels, tumors, and heart valve abnormalities will also cause tinnitus. Drug toxicity can also cause tinnitus.

Aside from inner ear, nerve and middle ear diseases, much tinnitus seen today is a result of damage following noise exposure, especially in the workplace. Noise induced hearing losses are very common, and are often associated with annoying tinnitus.

Tinnitus is best resolved by treating the underlying process. Noise induced tinnitus is completely preventable. Wear ear protection — ear plugs and ear muffs — when exposed to brief or prolonged noisy areas. Noise-induced damage is not correctable, and is difficult to treat effectively. I must strongly emphasize ear protection in adults and especially in children. The hearing losses are permanent.

Protect your children's ears from excessive noise, and discourage unprotected exposure to blasts, engines, explosions and other sources of noise.

First of all, you will need a simple initial hearing test (air and bone conduction need to be tested) and an evaluation to determine the source of tinnitus. The decision on further evaluation hinges on these studies and the physical examination. You will need a consultation with your medical doctor to guide you.

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