Hearing a ringing in your ear is not uncommon; in fact, up to 15 percent of American adults experience tinnitus. While experts are unsure of the exact cause of this symptom, they do know it is linked to hearing loss and noise exposure.
Connection with Hearing Loss
Nearly 90 percent of those with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Tinnitus tends to follow the same pattern as your type of loss. Those who have high frequency hearing loss will have tinnitus that manifests as a high-pitched ringing or hissing, and if you only have hearing loss is one ear, your tinnitus will only be present in that ear.
In order to understand the connection between hearing loss and tinnitus, you must know how sound is processed.
A soundwave from your environment is captured by your ear and travels to the inner ear. Within the inner ear is the cochlea, filled with fluid and lined with hair cells. The sound vibration causes these hair cells to move, which creates an electrical impulse that is sent via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
Illness, injury, aging and exposure to noise can damage these hair cells, leading to hearing loss. When your brain receives less information from the inner ear, it may try to compensate by becoming more sensitive. This process is known as “raising the gain.” This is why people with tinnitus are oftentimes more sensitive to loud noises.
Damage from Noise Exposure
Exposure to loud noises can damage the hair cells in the inner ear as well as the nerve that carries this information to the brain. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss.
Many experience the onset of their tinnitus symptoms after exposure to noise.
Tinnitus is more common for those over the age of 60. According to Jos Jan Eggermont, a tinnitus expert from the University of Calgary in Alberta, “I don’t know any tinnitus that is age-related and not noise-exposed.”
Protect Your Ears
The best way to prevent hearing loss and tinnitus is to avoid exposure to noise. Earplugs, earmuffs or custom-made ear protection can help keep your ears safe.
To learn more about protecting your ears or to schedule an appointment with the experts, contact Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.