What is Tinnitus?

T

innitus is noise or “ringing” in the ears. It is extremely common and can be caused by several underlying conditions. The symptoms may come and go, or they may be persistent. They may be chronic or may clear up when an underlying condition subsides.

The symptoms are often difficult to perceive in an environment where there is sufficient background noise. However, they can be upsetting in a quiet environment. For this reason, many tinnitus sufferers have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. They may have hearing difficulties.

Tinnitus affects about 30 million Americans today.

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What Conditions is Tinnitus Associated With?

Tinnitus does not arise on its own. It is caused by a variety of other health concerns. Some cases of tinnitus are spurred by relatively simple physical changes, like earwax build-up, which can be treated at home. Many are more serious and require medical care.

Infections and fluid build-up within the ear cause a large number of tinnitus cases. This can be very difficult to treat, often requiring that fluid be removed via a tube. If infections recur, then related tinnitus can develop again.

Other conditions that may lead to tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Traumatic injury of the ear
  • Other issues in the outer, middle, or inner ear
  • Some circulatory disorders
  • Damage to the auditory nerves or the brain’s auditory pathways

Most cases are subjective tinnitus. That means only the patient can hear the noise. Objective tinnitus is a form of tinnitus caused by sounds a doctor can hear, such as muscle contractions or bone conditions of the middle ear.

Tinnitus Recovery and Lifestyle Changes

Some cases of tinnitus can be cured by treating the underlying condition. In many cases, however, symptoms persist indefinitely. Most tinnitus causes are self-limiting and do not worsen over time. That said, tinnitus can have a profound negative effect on quality of life.

One of the most significant potential side effects of tinnitus is hearing loss. Severe hearing loss associated with tinnitus is rare. Still, patients can experience difficulty hearing sounds in both the higher and lower auditory registers. Hearing aids can offer limited help.

If your doctor identifies a precise underlying cause for your tinnitus, do what you can to protect yourself. For example, when tinnitus is associated with infections, you can take steps to protect your respiratory health and make future infections less likely.

What Research Has Been Done on Tinnitus?

Medical research on tinnitus relies on collaboration from a combination of experts, including audiologists, scientists who study hearing and balance. Experimental tinnitus treatments are in testing that rely on precise electrical stimulation of the brain.

Tinnitus research focuses on finding ways to measure and evaluate the condition so new tinnitus treatment protocols can be developed. This requires novel use of precise tools that measure brain activity to pinpoint the neurological basis of tinnitus.

Why Are More Tinnitus Clinical Trials Important?

Tinnitus research has begun closing in on a tinnitus cure, but so far, no one tinnitus treatment works for everyone. Current tinnitus treatments are limited to making the condition less annoying. Next generation tinnitus clinical resources may be more proactive.

Current Tinnitus Clinical Trials

The following list includes all tinnitus clinical trials registered on ClinicalTrials.gov. If you have a clinical trial you would like to include, contact us.

Conclusion

The latest tinnitus clinical studies are entering an exciting phase where they may finally provide ways to eliminate tinnitus symptoms rather than just reduce them. This offers new hope to tinnitus sufferers of all backgrounds, including those suffering with age-related tinnitus.

Match to Tinnitus Clinical Trials

  • Access to cutting-edge treatments
  • Latest clinical trials
  • Find trials in your area