It is estimated that almost 50 Million Americans experience a random ringing in their ears for at least 5 minutes every year. But, is this a problem that warrants a visit to the doctor’s office? To understand this better, you need to learn more about Tinnitus and what possibly causes it. Below, we have tried to do just that.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a condition by itself. It is rather a symptom. It usually shows up when there is some sort of malfunction in your hearing, either in your ears or in your brain’s auditory nerve. Either way, Tinnitus can’t be treated specifically. It is therefore idiopathic in nature. One can only try to cure it by treating the overlying condition that might have caused it.
So, how do you figure out what might have caused Tinnitus? This is unfortunately not an easy process either.
What could have caused your Tinnitus and should you see a doctor for it?
Loud noise exposure – A vast majority of Tinnitus cases are caused by exposure to loud noise. Decibel levels over 85 can cause cell death in your ears. More specifically, hair-like cells called Cilia die. These cells are responsible for converting mechanical dance-like motions caused by sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can process. Loud noises can cause hundreds or even thousands of these cells to die. Such cell death is usually permanent, although advances in stem cell therapy might soon change that. If your ear ringing was caused by loud noise exposure, there’s a very good chance that it will go away very quickly, in most cases well within 24 hours. Only see a doctor if the ringing persists for a full 48 hours after your earning.
Sudden hearing loss – Tinnitus is often accompanied by hearing loss. Sometimes, such hearing loss is very sudden. If you experience sudden hearing loss, it is extremely important that you visit a doctor as soon as possible. Every hour or minute counts. Your doctor will carefully put you on a corticosteroid that will allow you to regain your lost hearing. When your hearing returns, the random ear ringing will also usually stop.The longer you wait after you have suddenly lost your hearing, the lesser the chances of you getting your hearing back. So, please see a doctor as soon as you can.
It is also very important that your doctor weans you off steroids by dosing down gradually. Suddenly stopping corticosteroids can actually cause your Tinnitus, even if it resolved it before. Talk to your doctor about steroid weaning and get a second opinion if you have to, just to know that the dosing down will work for you.