Answer The Ringing
Almost everyone has experienced tinnitus, that persistent ringing in the ear. Tinnitus is a very common condition, says Dr. Nilesh Vasan, an otolaryngologist at OU Physicians.
“Most people experience tinnitus intermittently,” he says.
This ringing can definitely be an irritation, but is it cause for concern?
“Tinnitus becomes worrisome for the patient when the noise levels become excessive, and they cannot ignore it,” says Vasan. “Especially when tinnitus affects one ear or is associated with dizziness and hearing loss.
“Seeing an otolaryngologist – an ear, nose and throat doctor – is the first step in managing this problem,” he adds.
The physician will likely use a hearing test to check for changes in the inner ear or hearing loss, since treatment often means finding the underlying cause.
“Tinnitus can occur with increasing age and is associated with hearing loss,” says Vasan. “Tinnitus can (also) be caused by excessive dosage of medications, certain types of antibiotics, noise exposure as well as other conditions affecting the inner ear.”
In patients with no obvious cause, there are a variety of masking techniques available.