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  • Rachel Gorman, PT, DPT

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ear..

Tinnitus Awareness Week February 1-7

Tinnitus Awareness Week is observed the first full week of February to educate the public about the symptoms of tinnitus and how it affects people.

What is tinnitus?

. People describe it as ringing, buzzing, clicking, roaring, hissing, or humming in one ear or both ears that is constant or comes and goes.

What causes tinnitus? Age-Related Hearing Loss. Hearing tends to decline with age, usually starting around age 60. Hearing loss can cause tinnitus.

  • Exposure to Loud Noise. Both short and long-term exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage to hearing. Exposure to loud noises includes heavy equipment, chain saws, firearms, portable music devices, attending a loud concert, etc.

  • Meneiere’s Disease. Tinnitus can be an early indicator of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that is caused by abnormal pressure in the inner ear. Other symptoms of Meneire’s Disease include vertigo, ear fullness/pressure, and hearing loss.

  • TMJ Disorders. Problems with the temporomandibular joint, the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears where your lower jaw meets your skull can cause tinnitus. Other symptoms of TMJ disorders include pain and discomfort, clicking, and difficulty chewing.

  • Acoustic Neuroma. This benign (noncancerous) tumor develops on the cranial nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear and controls balance and hearing.

  • Circulatory Disorders. Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, arteriovenous malformation (AVM) are circulatory disorders that may cause tinnitus.

  • Medications. Generally, the higher the dose of these meds, the worse the tinnitus. Often, the tinnitus disappears when you stop using these drugs. Meds known to cause or worsen tinnitus include antibiotics, cancer meds, diuretics (water pills), quinine meds, antidepressants, and high doses of aspirin.

How can physical therapy help? If your tinnitus is caused by an inner ear disorder, such as Meniere’s disease or an acoustic neuroma, your balance may be affected. The inner ear is the hearing and balance center of your body. If your hearing is affected, most likely your balance is affected as well. Your physical therapist can evaluate your balance and determine if you are a fall risk. You will then be placed on an appropriate balance exercise program to get you back on your feet. If your tinnitus is caused by a musculoskeletal disorder, such as a TMJ disorder, your physical therapist can evaluate and treat the muscles and joints affected. By using a combination of manual therapy techniques and specific exercises, the muscles and joints learn to relax and eventually the tinnitus diminishes as well.

To address the tinnitus itself, Restore now offers Class IV Laser treatments. The laser is a form of light therapy that causes a restoration of cells to facilitate healing. Research has shown that the laser can help treat tinnitus and reduce its severity.

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