Blog
May 25
Blog: Do you hear that ringing sound?

Most people at some point in their lives have experienced a ringing or other sound in their ears that no one else can hear. It's not an external sound, it's not imaginary, and it usually goes away in a few minutes. Ringing that doesn't go away or lasts longer than five minutes is tinnitus, experienced by approximately 11% of people in the United States. 

TinnitusAccording to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), tinnitus is an indication that something is not working properly within the auditory system. Most of the time, it's not a sign of anything serious, but it's always good to have your doctor take a look. Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of factors:

  • Earwax blocking the ear canal
  • Side effect of certain medications
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Noise-induced hearing loss (e.g. construction work, concerts, etc.)
  • A first sign of hearing loss in seniors
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid abnormalities
  • Ménière's disease (ear disorder that can lead to dizzy spells and hearing loss)
  • Disease of the heart or blood vessels
  • Brain tumors

Antibiotics can resolve the ringing if it's caused by a middle ear infection. If your family doctor is uncertain of the cause, or thinks specialized treatment is needed, they may refer you to an otolaryngologist, which is an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT).

Our otolaryngologists at Saratoga Hospital Medical Group - Ear, Nose & Throat specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries such as tinnitus and a variety of other conditions affecting the ear, nose, and throat. Treatment for tinnitus is widely varied as it depends on the cause.

Meanwhile, like many physiological conditions, stress and anxiety can aggravate tinnitus. Until it is resolved, here are some tips to help minimize the effect of the ringing in your daily activities:

  • Get plenty of rest. 
  • Avoid coffee, smoking, and alcohol.
  • Prop up your head when sleeping.
  • If ringing makes sleeping difficult, try adding another sound to your bedrooms, such as meditation music or a ticking clock.
  • Protect your ears from excessive noise by avoiding it, or by using ear plugs or other protective ear wear.

If you think you have tinnitus, see your doctor or call our ENT team, which include an audiologist. You do not need a referral. Our team treats adults and pediatric patients for a variety of illnesses and disorders, including chronic ear infections, hearing loss, Ménière's disease, tinnitus, snoring, sinusitis, smell and taste disorders, throat infections, tonsillitis, swollen adenoids, and more. They regularly perform complex ear and sinus surgeries, tonsillectomies, thyroid and other surgeries, and head, neck, and salivary gland surgeries. Our audiologist offers early intervention services to identify and address childhood articulation issues and pediatric hearing loss. He also treats ear pain and is skilled in removing wax and foreign objects that can become lodged in the ear. 

Saratoga Hospital Medical Group - Ear, Nose & Throat is located at 3050 Route 50, in the same building at the Saratoga Surgery Center in Wilton. To make an appointment, call 518-587-2300. Learn more about ENT and other services at SaratogaHospital.org


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