If you are experiencing a significant change in your ability to hear, it can affect every aspect of your daily life. You may need expensive medical treatment and returning to work may prove difficult. Some underlying conditions of hearing loss, such as tinnitus, make it very difficult to function normally. The treatments for hearing issues can be expensive.
What is Tinnitus?
If you have ever had a ringing sound in your ear, you have experienced tinnitus. It is a relatively common problem that is sometimes an underlying condition of other hearing issues. It can result from age-related hearing loss or something more serious such as an ear injury or circulatory system disorder.
There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. A subjective tinnitus is one only you can hear. This type of issue involves problems with your hearing nerves or the part of the brain that receives sound signals. Objective tinnitus is audible to your doctor. This rarer form of tinnitus is caused by an inner ear bone condition, muscle contractions or blood vessel problems.
Thankfully, tinnitus is not always a sign of something serious. In many cases, the symptoms of tinnitus can improve with treatment. Determining the underlying cause of the ringing can help for some, while others require treatments that mask the noise to make the ringing less noticeable.
The Symptoms of Tinnitus
Tinnitus refers to an annoying sensation of sound when there is no external sound present. Those who suffer from tinnitus may hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, buzzing or hissing sound even if the location where they are is completely quiet. This "phantom" noise may feel like it is in one or both ears and it can be quiet or loud enough to make it difficult to concentrate on anything else. This condition often comes and goes, but it can be present all the time in severe cases.
When to Seek Medical Attention
A little ringing in your ears that goes away after a minute or two is not worthy of a hospital visit, but some people who suffer from tinnitus do require medical attention. If your tinnitus is persistent enough to bother you, you should see a doctor. If it doesn't improve for a week, you should make sure that you are not also suffering from an upper respiratory infection. You should also see a doctor if your tinnitus came on suddenly without an apparent cause and you are suffering from hearing loss or dizziness.
Causes of Tinnitus
There are tiny hairs in your inner ear that move in relation to the pressure of sound waves that enter your ear. Their movement triggers ear cells to send a signal through a nerve to your brain. Your brain will then interpret those signals as sound. If these inner ear hairs are damaged, they may send random impulses to your brain.
You can sustain hearing issues from aging or from:
- Exposure to very loud noise: A sudden, intense noise or a long, loud noise can cause hearing loss. This is why many hearing loss issues occur at the workplace. Employees who are around heavy equipment, chain saws and other power tools can sustain damage to their ears. Tinnitus that results from a short-term exposure of loud noises typically goes away. Long-term exposure may cause permanent damage.
- Head and neck injuries: Trauma to the head and neck can affect the inner ear. When involved in a violent collision, the injured victims can sustain significant trauma to the head and neck. Tinnitus can also result from damaged nerves.
- Ear bone changes: Your hearing may change if the bones in your middle ear stiffen.
- Earwax blockage: The earwax in your ear canal serves to protect your ears by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. Too much earwax, however, can result in hearing loss or irritation to the eardrum.
Receiving Fair Compensation
If you are struggling with hearing issues because you work at a loud workplace, support should be available for your medical bills through workers' compensation benefits. If you have suffered an ear injury in an accident, you may be able to file an injury claim against the at-fault party. If you have suffered hearing loss or tinnitus, it is important to seek the guidance and counsel of a skilled personal injury attorney who has recent experience handling cases similar to yours.