There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that some tinnitus is a consequence of neuroplastic alterations in the central auditory pathway. These alterations are assumed to result from a disturbed sensory input, caused by hearing loss.[26] Hearing loss could indeed cause a homeostatic response of neurons in the central auditory system, and therefore cause tinnitus.[27]
While the American College of Physicians indicated that there is not enough evidence to determine the utility of screening in adults over 50 years old who do not have any symptoms,[99] the American Language, Speech Pathology and Hearing Association recommends that adults should be screened at least every decade through age 50 and at 3-year intervals thereafter, to minimize the detrimental effects of the untreated condition on quality of life.[100] For the same reason, the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion included as one of Healthy People 2020 objectives: to increase the proportion of persons who have had a hearing examination.[101]
Management is unclear. Various electronic filtering and limiting devices have been developed to try and prevent the problem. Many call centres now are very aware of the problem and have active occupational health teams who remove operatives from call handling duties after an acoustic incident, at least until the immediate symptoms have settled. For patients with persistent symptoms the techniques used for tinnitus and hyperacusis may be applied. Sound therapy for acoustic shock patients can be useful but may be difficult to provide as many people with acoustic shock do not tolerate having sound generators in their ears. Westcott gives useful advice on how to administer sound therapy using techniques such as having headphones loosely around the neck rather than over the ears.2 Sleep management and relaxation strategies may be useful. For those with significant anxiety depression symptoms of PTSD a psychological opinion may be beneficial.
EYES AND VISIONEARS, NOSE AND THROATSKIN, HAIR, NAILSHEART AND VESSELSKIDNEYS AND URINARY TRACTBLOOD AND IMMUNITYLIVER AND GALLBLADDERLUNGS AND AIRWAYSUPPER AND LOWER LIMBWOMEN’S HEALTH AND PREGNANCYWOMEN’S HEALTHKIDS HEALTHMEN’S HEALTHABCD – FIRST AID: INJURIES, POISONINGNEWBORNS BABIESHORMONES AND METABOLISMMEDICATION, SUPPLEMENTSMEDICAL TERMINOLOGYNUTRITIONSURGERY AND OTHER PROCEDURES
Rapid referral for a comprehensive audiological assessment provides reassurance, and can help control an escalation of symptoms and limit the development of hyperacusis. History taking should document immediate and persistent symptoms since the acoustic incident exposure; prior acoustic incident exposures; and prior otological and psychological history. Significant malingering is rare in ASD clients, in my experience. Most clients are bewildered, frightened or angered by their symptoms and desperate to recover.

^ Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators (October 2016). "Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015". Lancet. 388 (10053): 1545–1602. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31678-6. PMC 5055577. PMID 27733282.
Hearing loss can also result from taking certain medications. “Ototoxic” medications damage the inner ear, sometimes permanently. Some ototoxic drugs include medicines used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Some antibiotics are ototoxic. Even aspirin at some dosages can cause problems. Check with your doctor if you notice a problem while taking a medication.

Hearing loss can be inherited. Around 75–80% of all these cases are inherited by recessive genes, 20–25% are inherited by dominant genes, 1–2% are inherited by X-linked patterns, and fewer than 1% are inherited by mitochondrial inheritance.[55] Syndromic deafness occurs when there are other signs or medical problems aside from deafness in an individual,[55] such as Usher syndrome, Stickler syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome, Alport's syndrome, and neurofibromatosis type 2. Nonsyndromic deafness occurs when there are no other signs or medical problems associated with an individual other than deafness.[55]
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Tennessee in 2006. This article has been viewed 3,276,631 times.

This is one psychological approach that can be useful in managing tinnitus. The idea is that when you became aware of your tinnitus, you responded to it negatively. For example, you may have thought there was something seriously wrong with your hearing (a belief) and this led to you being anxious (an emotion), and you then tried to feel better, for example by avoiding silence (a behaviour). Some beliefs and behaviours are helpful and that’s great – keep doing them! But some beliefs and/or behaviours are unhelpful and CBT helps you to recognise them, and then you work together with the clinician (usually a psychologist, audiologist or hearing therapist) to find different ways of responding to the tinnitus so it becomes less bothersome.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds aren’t able to travel from the outer ear to the eardrum and the bones of the middle ear. When this type of hearing loss occurs, you may find it difficult to hear soft or muffled sounds. Conductive hearing loss isn’t always permanent. Medical interventions can treat it. Treatment may include antibiotics or surgical interventions, such as a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a small electrical machine placed under your skin behind the ear. It translates sound vibrations into electrical signals that your brain can then interpret as meaningful sound.


An outer ear infection is sometimes called swimmer’s ear. That’s because it often starts as a result of water that remains in your ear after swimming or bathing. The moisture becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. If your outer ear is scratched or if you irritate the outer lining of your ear by putting your fingers or other objects in your ear, a bacterial infection can occur.
Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis), or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. It is often worse when background noise is low, so you may be most aware of it at night when you're trying to fall asleep in a quiet room. In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart (pulsatile tinnitus).

Hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors, including: genetics, ageing, exposure to noise, some infections, birth complications, trauma to the ear, and certain medications or toxins.[2] A common condition that results in hearing loss is chronic ear infections.[2] Certain infections during pregnancy, such as cytomegalovirus, syphilis and rubella, may also cause hearing loss in the child.[2][10] Hearing loss is diagnosed when hearing testing finds that a person is unable to hear 25 decibels in at least one ear.[2] Testing for poor hearing is recommended for all newborns.[8] Hearing loss can be categorized as mild (25 to 40 dB), moderate (41 to 55 dB), moderate-severe (56 to 70 dB), severe (71 to 90 dB), or profound (greater than 90 dB).[2] There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.[3]


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The use of sound therapy by either hearing aids or tinnitus maskers helps the brain ignore the specific tinnitus frequency. Although these methods are poorly supported by evidence, there are no negative effects.[3][86][87] There are several approaches for tinnitus sound therapy. The first is sound modification to compensate for the individual's hearing loss. The second is a signal spectrum notching to eliminate energy close to the tinnitus frequency.[88][89] There is some tentative evidence supporting tinnitus retraining therapy, which is aimed at reducing tinnitus-related neuronal activity.[3][90][89] There are preliminary data on an alternative tinnitus treatment using mobile applications, including various methods: masking, sound therapy, relaxing exercises and other.[91][92] These applications can work as a separate device or as a hearing aid control system.[93]
Some people experience a sound that beats in time with their pulse, known as pulsatile tinnitus or vascular tinnitus.[39] Pulsatile tinnitus is usually objective in nature, resulting from altered blood flow, increased blood turbulence near the ear, such as from atherosclerosis or venous hum,[40] but it can also arise as a subjective phenomenon from an increased awareness of blood flow in the ear.[39] Rarely, pulsatile tinnitus may be a symptom of potentially life-threatening conditions such as carotid artery aneurysm[41] or carotid artery dissection.[42] Pulsatile tinnitus may also indicate vasculitis, or more specifically, giant cell arteritis. Pulsatile tinnitus may also be an indication of idiopathic intracranial hypertension.[43] Pulsatile tinnitus can be a symptom of intracranial vascular abnormalities and should be evaluated for irregular noises of blood flow (bruits).[44]
Some people experience a sound that beats in time with their pulse, known as pulsatile tinnitus or vascular tinnitus.[39] Pulsatile tinnitus is usually objective in nature, resulting from altered blood flow, increased blood turbulence near the ear, such as from atherosclerosis or venous hum,[40] but it can also arise as a subjective phenomenon from an increased awareness of blood flow in the ear.[39] Rarely, pulsatile tinnitus may be a symptom of potentially life-threatening conditions such as carotid artery aneurysm[41] or carotid artery dissection.[42] Pulsatile tinnitus may also indicate vasculitis, or more specifically, giant cell arteritis. Pulsatile tinnitus may also be an indication of idiopathic intracranial hypertension.[43] Pulsatile tinnitus can be a symptom of intracranial vascular abnormalities and should be evaluated for irregular noises of blood flow (bruits).[44]
^ "Childhood hearing loss: act now, here's how!" (PDF). WHO. 2016. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016. Over 30% of childhood hearing loss is caused by diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis and ear infections. These can be prevented through immunization and good hygiene practices. Another 17% of childhood hearing loss results from complications at birth, including prematurity, low birth weight, birth asphyxia and neonatal jaundice. Improved maternal and child health practices would help to prevent these complications. The use of ototoxic medicines in expectant mothers and newborns, which is responsible for 4% of childhood hearing loss, could potentially be avoided.
Often interventions to prevent noise-induced hearing loss have many components. A 2017 Cochrane review found that stricter legislation might reduce noise levels.[97] Providing workers with information on their noise exposure levels was not shown to decrease exposure to noise. Ear protection, if used correctly, can reduce noise to safer levels, but often, providing them is not sufficient to prevent hearing loss. Engineering noise out and other solutions such as proper maintenance of equipment can lead to noise reduction, but further field studies on resulting noise exposures following such interventions are needed. Other possible solutions include improved enforcement of existing legislation and better implementation of well-designed prevention programmes, which have not yet been proven conclusively to be effective. The conclusion of the Cochrane Review was that further research could modify what is now regarding the effectiveness of the evaluated interventions.[97]

Outer ear infection: otitis externa – usually affects adults aged 45 to 75. It affects the ear canal and is often caused by bacterial infection of the skin of the canal, or a fungus or a yeast. It can also be caused by an irritation such as wearing earplugs or a hearing aid. It is common in people who suffer from skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis but also in people who are keen swimmers.


When the sound waves reach the inner ear, they travel through the fluids of the cochlea. The cochlea is a snail-shaped structure in the inner ear. In the cochlea, there are nerve cells with thousands of miniature hairs attached to them. These hairs help convert the sound wave vibrations into electrical signals that then travel to your brain. Your brain interprets these electrical signals as sound. Different sound vibrations create different reactions in these tiny hairs, signaling different sounds to your brain.
Prevent common colds and other illnesses. Teach your children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and to not share eating and drinking utensils. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm. If possible, limit the time your child spends in group child care. A child care setting with fewer children may help. Try to keep your child home from child care or school when ill.
The use of sound therapy by either hearing aids or tinnitus maskers helps the brain ignore the specific tinnitus frequency. Although these methods are poorly supported by evidence, there are no negative effects.[3][86][87] There are several approaches for tinnitus sound therapy. The first is sound modification to compensate for the individual's hearing loss. The second is a signal spectrum notching to eliminate energy close to the tinnitus frequency.[88][89] There is some tentative evidence supporting tinnitus retraining therapy, which is aimed at reducing tinnitus-related neuronal activity.[3][90][89] There are preliminary data on an alternative tinnitus treatment using mobile applications, including various methods: masking, sound therapy, relaxing exercises and other.[91][92] These applications can work as a separate device or as a hearing aid control system.[93]
Other potential sources of the sounds normally associated with tinnitus should be ruled out. For instance, two recognized sources of high-pitched sounds might be electromagnetic fields common in modern wiring and various sound signal transmissions. A common and often misdiagnosed condition that mimics tinnitus is radio frequency (RF) hearing, in which subjects have been tested and found to hear high-pitched transmission frequencies that sound similar to tinnitus.[72][73]
Hearing loss is associated with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The risk increases with the hearing loss degree. There are several hypotheses including cognitive resources being redistributed to hearing and social isolation from hearing loss having a negative effect.[27] According to preliminary data, hearing aid usage can slow down the decline in cognitive functions.[28]

^ Jump up to: a b c Han BI, Lee HW, Kim TY, Lim JS, Shin KS (March 2009). "Tinnitus: characteristics, causes, mechanisms, and treatments". Journal of Clinical Neurology. 5 (1): 11–19. doi:10.3988/jcn.2009.5.1.11. PMC 2686891. PMID 19513328. About 75% of new cases are related to emotional stress as the trigger factor rather than to precipitants involving cochlear lesions.
These symptoms often happen all at the same time and last anything from minutes to hours. It is a very distressing condition because it is so unpredictable. Furthermore, it can take a day or two for the symptoms to completely disappear and sufferers often feel drained after an attack. Additionally, although the condition usually starts in one ear, it can spread to both over time.
^ McCombe A, Baguley D, Coles R, McKenna L, McKinney C, Windle-Taylor P (2001). "Guidelines for the grading of tinnitus severity: the results of a working group commissioned by the British Association of Otolaryngologists, Head and Neck Surgeons, 1999". Clinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences. 26 (5): 388–93. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2273.2001.00490.x. PMID 11678946. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-24.
Falls have important health implications, especially for an aging population where they can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of injuries caused by falls, since older individuals typically have greater bone fragility and poorer protective reflexes.[35] Fall-related injury can also lead to burdens on the financial and health care systems.[35] In literature, age-related hearing loss is found to be significantly associated with incident falls.[36] There is also a potential dose-response relationship between hearing loss and falls---greater severity of hearing loss is associated with increased difficulties in postural control and increased prevalence of falls.[37] The underlying causal link between the association of hearing loss and falls is yet to be elucidated. There are several hypotheses that indicate that there may be a common process between decline in auditory system and increase in incident falls, driven by physiological, cognitive, and behavioral factors.[37] This evidence suggests that treating hearing loss has potential to increase health-related quality of life in older adults.[37]
If you are experiencing hearing loss, you should see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, who can make a specific diagnosis for you, and talk to you about treatment options, including surgical procedures. A critical part of the evaluation will be a hearing test (audiogram) performed by an audiologist (a professional who tests hearing function) to determine the severity of your loss as well as determine if the hearing loss is conductive, sensorineural, or a mix of both.
Acute infections are mainly due to bacteria but persistent ear itching may be related to  a fungal infection. This is known as otomycosis and most cases are due to the Aspergillus spp of fungi, with the Candida spp causing a minority of fungal ear infections. Ear discharge (purulent) with pain, swelling and redness tends to occur in bacterial infections along with the itching. With fungal infections, a persistent itch and watery discharge (serous), which is often referred to as ‘water in the ears’, are more frequently present.
Tinnitus also could be the result of neural circuits thrown out of balance when damage in the inner ear changes signaling activity in the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound. Or it could be the result of abnormal interactions between neural circuits. The neural circuits involved in hearing aren’t solely dedicated to processing sound. They also communicate with other parts of the brain, such as the limbic region, which regulates mood and emotion.
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that some tinnitus is a consequence of neuroplastic alterations in the central auditory pathway. These alterations are assumed to result from a disturbed sensory input, caused by hearing loss.[26] Hearing loss could indeed cause a homeostatic response of neurons in the central auditory system, and therefore cause tinnitus.[27]
Hearing loss is a partial or total inability to hear.[5] Hearing loss may be present at birth or acquired at any time afterwards.[6][7] Hearing loss may occur in one or both ears.[2] In children, hearing problems can affect the ability to learn spoken language, and in adults it can create difficulties with social interaction and at work.[8] Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. Hearing loss related to age usually affects both ears and is due to cochlear hair cell loss.[9] In some people, particularly older people, hearing loss can result in loneliness.[2] Deaf people usually have little to no hearing.[6]
Other potential sources of the sounds normally associated with tinnitus should be ruled out. For instance, two recognized sources of high-pitched sounds might be electromagnetic fields common in modern wiring and various sound signal transmissions. A common and often misdiagnosed condition that mimics tinnitus is radio frequency (RF) hearing, in which subjects have been tested and found to hear high-pitched transmission frequencies that sound similar to tinnitus.[72][73]
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If there is no obvious cause of hearing loss, your doctor can refer you for a hearing assessment with an audiologist or an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist. They will look into your ears and test your hearing to see how well you can detect different levels of sound. This assessment will help find the cause of your hearing loss and what treatments would work best.
Exposure to loud noise. Loud noises, such as those from heavy equipment, chain saws and firearms, are common sources of noise-related hearing loss. Portable music devices, such as MP3 players or iPods, also can cause noise-related hearing loss if played loudly for long periods. Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away; both short- and long-term exposure to loud sound can cause permanent damage.
As ASD symptoms are subjective, they are easily misunderstood, misdiagnosed or not believed. An inadequate understanding of the symptoms often exacerbates anxiety, and can lead to confusion and distress. The long term symptoms of severe ASD are consistent with severe hyperacusis, or category 4 according to the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) system of classification. Some of the most severe cases of hyperacusis seen in my clinic are those with ASD.
Falls have important health implications, especially for an aging population where they can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of injuries caused by falls, since older individuals typically have greater bone fragility and poorer protective reflexes.[35] Fall-related injury can also lead to burdens on the financial and health care systems.[35] In literature, age-related hearing loss is found to be significantly associated with incident falls.[36] There is also a potential dose-response relationship between hearing loss and falls---greater severity of hearing loss is associated with increased difficulties in postural control and increased prevalence of falls.[37] The underlying causal link between the association of hearing loss and falls is yet to be elucidated. There are several hypotheses that indicate that there may be a common process between decline in auditory system and increase in incident falls, driven by physiological, cognitive, and behavioral factors.[37] This evidence suggests that treating hearing loss has potential to increase health-related quality of life in older adults.[37]
Masking. Masking devices, worn like hearing aids, generate low-level white noise (a high-pitched hiss, for example) that can reduce the perception of tinnitus and sometimes also produce residual inhibition — less noticeable tinnitus for a short time after the masker is turned off. A specialized device isn't always necessary for masking; often, playing music or having a radio, fan, or white-noise machine on in the background is enough. Although there's not enough evidence from randomized trials to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of masking, hearing experts often recommend a trial of simple masking strategies (such as setting a radio at low volume between stations) before they turn to more expensive options.
Most tinnitus is "sensorineural," meaning that it's due to hearing loss at the cochlea or cochlear nerve level. But tinnitus may originate in other places. Our bodies normally produce sounds (called somatic sounds) that we usually don't notice because we are listening to external sounds. Anything that blocks normal hearing can bring somatic sounds to our attention. For example, you may get head noise when earwax blocks the outer ear.
The other fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear include three tubes called the semicircular canals (vestibular labyrinth). Hair cells in the semicircular canals detect the motion of the fluids when you move in any direction. They convert the motion into electrical signals that are transmitted along the vestibular nerve to the brain. This sensory information enables you to maintain your sense of balance.
Assessment of psychological processes related to tinnitus involves measurement of tinnitus severity and distress (i.e., nature and extent of tinnitus-related problems), measured subjectively by validated self-report tinnitus questionnaires.[16] These questionnaires measure the degree of psychological distress and handicap associated with tinnitus, including effects on hearing, lifestyle, health and emotional functioning.[63][64][65] A broader assessment of general functioning, such as levels of anxiety, depression, stress, life stressors and sleep difficulties, is also important in the assessment of tinnitus due to higher risk of negative well-being across these areas, which may be affected by or exacerbate the tinnitus symptoms for the individual.[66] Overall, current assessment measures are aimed to identify individual levels of distress and interference, coping responses and perceptions of tinnitus in order to inform treatment and monitor progress. However, wide variability, inconsistencies and lack of consensus regarding assessment methodology are evidenced in the literature, limiting comparison of treatment effectiveness.[67] Developed to guide diagnosis or classify severity, most tinnitus questionnaires have been shown to be treatment-sensitive outcome measures.[68]
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