What’s the Difference Between Hearing Loss and Tinnitus?
This is a commonly asked question, and it’s important to note the differences between tinnitus, otherwise known as the ringing in the ears, and hearing loss. Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss, and does not cause hearing loss. The two are often related, but there are important differences between hearing loss and tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the sensation of ringing in the ears. Approximately 50 million people suffer from tinnitus in the United States. The ringing may be constant, but it often comes and goes throughout the day. Many people report troubling sleeping, without the day’s activities to distract them from the ringing. There are many causes of tinnitus, but the most common is exposure (either briefly or over a prolonged period) to loud noise. An example of a brief exposure would be gunfire (without proper ear protection); an example of a longer exposure would be a construction worker – he or she is surrounded by operating machinery that can cause damage.
How are Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Related?
Many people with tinnitus have experienced some form of hearing loss, so they are often linked together. Exposure to loud noise usually results in hearing loss, of which a symptom is tinnitus. Tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, nor does it make hearing loss worse.
On the flip side, there are people suffering from tinnitus who have no hearing loss whatsoever. Other causes of tinnitus include excessive wax, side effects to medication, or ear infections, among many others. One can have diminished hearing without necessarily bringing on intermittent tinnitus.
While hearing loss and tinnitus have a clear relation, tinnitus and hearing loss vary on a case-by-case basis. Ear health is a very individualized condition, and any concerns should be discussed with your doctor. If you’re having trouble managing your tinnitus, Ring Relief® may be able to help. Find out more here.