If you are, you’re not alone. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is very common, affecting an estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. Many patients say they hear ringing, chirping, whistling or other sounds.

Impact of Tinnitus 

So, should you be worried if that noise doesn’t go away? “For many, it’s just annoying, but in some severe cases it can cause problems with work, sleep and relationships, which leads to bigger problems,” says Barry Strasnick, MD, FACS, Professor and Chair of EVMS Otolaryngology. “On rare occasions tinnitus may be a symptom of a more serious medical disorder.“

Hearing Loss 

A big concern for some is that it could lead to permanent hearing loss, but Dr. Strasnick says that is not the case. “While tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, it can often be seen as a symptom associated with hearing problems.”

What Causes Tinnitus

Tinnitus is often seen in association with aging as well as a result of acute noise trauma or prolonged noise exposure. Other causes include: wax buildup, inner ear disorders such as Meniere’s disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure to name a few. 

When To See a Doctor

Dr. Strasnick recommends that you see your doctor when tinnitus is present in only one ear, is associated with a sudden decline in hearing or new problems with dizziness or balance.  Also, if the tinnitus affects sleep or contributes to significant psychological issues such as depression or anxiety, medical evaluation is recommended.

To learn more, call EVMS Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons at 757.388.6200 or visit EVMS ENT Surgeons online.