As we have discussed in previous articles, there are many factors that go into investing in hearing aids.  Our priority, first and foremost, is basing technology and components inside the units on your lifestyle to ensure they are doing their job for the life you want to live.  It should not be based on what the hearing aid looks like.  With that being said, there are many different styles of hearing aids.  The range of style options allows hearing care professionals to work with the wants and needs of each patient; however,....



Too often, the process in which we hear is overlooked.  As a hearing care professional, it is crucial for patients to recognize how our ears and brain work in order to understand the process in which we hear vs. how we understand.  I have worked with many patients and feel that the most successful have a clear understanding of these differences which provides realistic expectations during the hearing aid process.



Did you know your health could be negatively affecting your hearing? It’s true!  Hearing loss is associated with a number of different health problems ranging from hypertension to heart health. Today’s article is not to scare you, rather to inform you, and a lot of information will be hard. Working with your primary care physician or another certified healthcare professional can go a long way, especially when we are talking about medical causes for hearing loss.


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by the pulsing nature of the sound.  The pulsing is typically in sync with an individual’s heartbeat.  If this type of tinnitus is experienced, please contact a physician so they can ensure there is no circulatory cause.

Musical tinnitus is the perception of music or singing.  This is also known as Musical Ear Syndrome and is quite rare.

Tinnitus can manifest in one or both ears, occurring intermittently or continually.

The cause of tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying health condition.  For most individuals, tinnitus is associated with damage to the ear or auditory system; however, there are roughly 200 different health disorders that can cause tinnitus as a symptom.  We are going to talk about the most common causes of tinnitus.  If there is concern about why an individual has hearing loss, it is pertinent they discuss this with their medical provider to determine the root cause.

Hearing Loss.

Permanent, sensorineural hearing loss is often associated with tinnitus; specifically age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss.  Age related hearing loss often starts around 60 years of age and tends to affect both ears, specifically targeting the high frequencies.  Noise- induced hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud sounds.  This includes noise from work (i.e. farming, construction, heavy machinery), hobbies (i.e. motorcycles, woodworking, concerts, shooting range) and/or by accident (i.e. traumatic noise).

Obstructions in the  Middle Ear.

Excessive ear wax, foreign objects or dirt and head congestion can cause the perception of tinnitus due to an imbalance of pressure between different areas of the ear.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is where the lower jaw connects to the skull and is located in front of the ears.  Damage to the muscles, ligaments or cartilage in the joint can lead to tinnitus.

Traumatic Brain Injury.

The brain’s auditory processing areas are damaged and can generate the symptom of tinnitus.  This is a major cause for tinnitus regarding are men and women in the military.  Approximately 60% of all tinnitus cases diagnosed by the U.S. Veterans Administration are attributable to mild-to-severe traumatic brain injuries.

Ototoxic Drugs.

Tinnitus is a side-effect to many prescription medications.  Often, a patient stops experiencing tinnitus once the medication is discontinued.  This should be discussed with the prescribing physician before doing so.  Other medications can cause more permanent tinnitus symptoms and including specific antibiotics, some cancer treating medications, water pills, diuretics, and quinine-based medications.  Again, if an individual is worried about their medications being the cause of tinnitus, please speak with the prescribing physician first.

Impact of Tinnitus on an Individual.

Many patients have expressed tinnitus negatively impacting their life.  Tinnitus can interfere with the ability to work and socialize and has also been associated with anxiety, sleep disturbances, frustration, lack of concentration, social isolation, depression and mood swings.


Tinnitus is still being investigated by researchers as to determine the location of where it is occurring in the brain.  One common theory behind tinnitus is that it is the brain’s way of filling in for missing sounds it no longer receives from damage.  Due to this research still taking place, there is no FDA approved cure for tinnitus.  With that being said, there are treatment options that can ease the perceived burden of tinnitus.  Current treatment options include hearing aids, cochlear implants and sound therapy.  These options can help individuals gain some relief..

If you or someone you know experiences tinnitus, take the first step by contacting an Audiologist.

For further information, feel free to visit the American Tinnitus Association (www.ata.org).


Dr. Brewer completed her Doctor of Audiology degree at the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine and her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She is licensed by the state of Kentucky as an audiologist and hearing instrument specialist. She is also a member of the American Academy of Audiology, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, Kentucky Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  

more articles by dr brewer

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external stimulus is present. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates approximately 15% of the general public, that is over 50 million Americans, experience some form of tinnitus.  Of that, nearly 20 million individuals struggle with chronic tinnitus that is considered a burden, while 2 million have extreme tinnitus that is often debilitating.

There are two types of tinnitus, subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus that is perceived by only the patient. It cannot be heard externally; only by the individual. According to the American Tinnitus Association, more than 99% of all tinnitus cases reported are subjective. Objective tinnitus are noises that are audible to many individuals at one time. These sounds can often including hearing circulatory (blood flow) systems. This type of tinnitus occurs in less than 1% of all tinnitus cases.

Many describe tinnitus as a “ringing in the ears” but there are actually three different ways to describe one’s tinnitus; tonal, pulsatile or musical tinnitus.

Tonal tinnitus is a type of subjective tinnitus that can be described as a ringing, humming, buzzing, whistling, clicking, swooshing or chirping sound. The volume at which these tonal sounds occur can vary.

Pulsatile tinnitus is a form of objective tinnitus that is described