If you hear a ringing noise in the ears or one that may be described as buzzing or whistling, chances are you are suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. What causes this ringing in the ears? The noise you are hearing is a symptom of an issue within the hearing nerves, hearing mechanism or portion of the brain that is responsible for processing sound. Most tinnitus symptoms are the result of damage to cells within the inner ear as a result of exposure to loud noises or hearing loss related to age. When this damage occurs, the ear perceives sound even when none is present.

Symptoms of tinnitus vary greatly from person to person. Some describe the sound as mildly annoying and of short duration while others report that the sound is constant and so loud that it interferes with sleep and concentration. Sleep problems often arise and the person suffering from tinnitus may experience stress, anxiety, irritability , depression and memory problems. When no underlying medical condition is detected, treatment will focus on finding ways to make the symptoms less troubling. An ear, nose and throat specialist or an audiologist may suggest you try one or more of the following treatments.

Hearing aids helps those suffering from hearing loss. With the hearing aid, external sounds which are present are easier to pick up, making the tinnitus less noticeable. Masking devices produce white noise to help block out the ringing in the ears. Some patients find the most relief with tinnitus retraining therapy. Low-level steady noises will be presented to the patient over a period of time. This helps to desensitize the patient to the tinnitus. This type of therapy is often part of a long-term comprehensive program designed to treat severe cases.

If you find the ringing in your ears to be very annoying, see an ear, nose and throat specialist or an audiologist. He or she will do a complete physical exam to ensure there are no underlying medical conditions contributing to the problem. Once this has been ruled out, treatment will begin so you get relief. Although ringing in the ears will always be present to some extent, symptoms can be reduced so quality of life is not affected.