The ringing sound, or tinnitus, can range from a background noise to an annoying sound. In worst cases, patients suffering from tinnitus are not able to hear any other sounds. The ringing can be in one ear, in both or patients could feel as if the sound is inside their head.
Tinnitus is caused by inner ear malfunction. Traumas outside the ear and auditory nerve, but within the head, like TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and dental problems, might result in ringing ears as well. Tinnitus is also present parallel to memory issues, fatigue, anxiety, and poor health.
Although it is possible to measure how well a person hears, it is difficult to measure the subjective annoyance that tinnitus represents. Hearing loss and ringing ears have at least one cause in common. Both are caused by loud noises. That is, noises over 80 db. For developing tinnitus patients must be exposed for a considerable amount of time to a loud noise. That is the case in some factories, in some entertainment venues and near some heavy equipment, like the type find in mines.
The bad news for people suffering from tinnitus is that there is no complete cure. The good news is that it can be alleviated, up to a point where patients can follow a normal life. Medicine has many different treatments against tinnitus. Choosing the right one depends on the extension of the damage to the ear and the persistence of the ringing sound. The treatments can range from a simple device that will mask any background sound to more complex surgical interventions that will remove the damaged part of the inner ear responsible for the ringing sound.
Tinnitus can be the cause and the effect of many other problems. Anxiety, depression and stress are linked to it. It is also important to treat these underlying problems together with any treatment of tinnitus itself.
Tinnitus is not dangerous, even if it is bothersome. However, without intensive treatment, tinnitus might grow worse or halter the patient through his common daily activities. With an intensive treatment, tinnitus can be dealt with, which means that the patient will be able to hear clearly speech sounds and will not have the ringing sound any more.