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Senior Care: What is Tinnitus?

By Greg Bridges, RN, MA, 8:00 am on

Usually characterized by ringing in the ears or related sensations like buzzing and whistling, tinnitus affects roughly 50 million Americans. Inner ear noises, occurring with varying degrees of loudness, can either be intermittent or continuous. If you provide home care for a senior loved one, you can help him or her deal with tinnitus by understanding the condition and its short and long-term effects.

How Tinnitus May Affect Seniors

While often associated with age-related hearing loss in seniors, it’s important to note that tinnitus itself does not result in hearing loss or cause hearing loss. For many individuals, the condition is simply a minor annoyance. However, severe cases of tinnitus may make it difficult to sleep or concentrate when awake. Tinnitus is often aggravated by background noises like having the TV on or being in a room where other people are talking.


Possible Causes of Tinnitus

Even after underlying causes like infections and blockages are treated, patients frequently still experience symptoms. Tinnitus is often associated with longtime exposure to loud noises. However, single instances of exposure to an extremely loud noise, such as an explosion, can also cause tinnitus to develop. Additional causes of tinnitus may include:

  • Excessive buildup of wax
  • Certain medications (aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, sedatives, antibiotics)
  • Otosclerosis (stiffening of the inner-ear bones)
  • Neck, jaw or neck injuries

Note: Patients with conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and thyroid problems tend to be more susceptible to developing tinnitus.

Treating Tinnitus

If tinnitus is directly related to medications a senior is taking, it will likely go away once the medication is changed or adjusted. Some patients benefit from sound therapy involving listening to a pleasant background noise, which can be a simple as putting a radio by the bedside on low volume. Some seniors with both hearing loss and tinnitus experience relief when wearing a hearing aid.

Interested in learning more about senior care? Reach out to Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma today. While we are widely recognized for our expertise in Oklahoma live-in care, we also provide hourly care for seniors on an as-needed basis. Call 405-285-4191 for more information or schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly Care Manager.