Silencing the Noise
It affects millions of adults and children every day. Doctors say ringing in the ears is a common complaint with little treatment available.
Dr. Stuart Morgenstein, a pediatric ear, nose, and throat physician on the staff of Golisano Children’s Hospital, says tinnitus can start as a dull ringing in the ears. “It’s a perception of a sound or a noise in the ear.”
For some patients the ringing can get louder over time. “One out of every ten person, which comes to about has 21 million people have ringing in the ears. It can be constant 24 hours a day, it could be episodic, and it could come and go,” said Dr. Morgenstein.
Tinnitus can happen at any age. Doctors say the ringing can be triggered by ear wax, ear infections, medications, even diabetes and thyroid problems. “Ringing in the ears is not normal and it should be evaluated. The ideal way of evaluating it is usually with a very detailed history and physical, often we do a hearing test because sometimes ringing in the ears is associated with dizziness and hearing loss,” said Dr. Morgenstein.
While there’s no real cure, doctors say the ringing commonly resolves on its own. “The body itself is very noisy. The reason we don’t hear the noise is because our brain stops listening to it. But when you have a new sound the brain will listen to it and make you aware of it. It’s the same as when you move next to a train and it interrupts your sleep, over time you stop hearing the train,” said Dr. Morgenstein.
Doctors say treatments for children can be increasing exercise or treating an ear infection. As for adults, reducing caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can also help stop the noise.
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