Your Health: Tinnitus debilitating for some who have it

Published: Jun. 12, 2012 at 7:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2016 at 1:50 PM CDT
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Tinnitus can be managed, but the ringing can be debilitating at times.
Tinnitus can be managed, but the ringing can be debilitating at times.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Dr. Randall F. Wilks is a 20 year audiologist. He's very precise about the hearing tests he gives to people. He recognizes complaints about a ringing or buzzing noise in their ears because he also suffers from the condition.

"When you're perceiving sound and there's no sound present, that is in a broad range considered Tinnitus," said Wilks.

He said it can be caused by many things.

"Something as simple as aspirin can turn the volume up and we hear our inner ear's internal noise," he added.

And it isn't always a ringing noise.

"Sometimes the sound is perceived as a roaring water fall," he said.

Wilks said the sounds can vary as much as the cause. One big reason people develop the condition involves prolonged exposure to loud noises, like a train whistle.

Years ago, Baby Boomers cranked up the tunes, and now they are paying the price.

Very often this condition goes hand in hand with hearing loss.

There are other causes like high blood pressure, infections, and medications.

"When you find nasal allergies and any medical condition in your body, there are medications involved to treat these things. I believe the side effects of medication to treat a variety of things," said Wilks.

He is in a unique situation in that he also suffers from this condition.

"As I sit right here, right now, my ears are screaming," he said.

He said lifestyle changes are important. Reduce the noise levels, ask about medications, reduce stress, control diabetes and blood pressure levels, and much more.

"I've had lots of coffee this morning preparing for this interview. I must admit, my stress levels are up quite a bit and all that increases the ringing in my ears," added Wilks.

Wilks said once he gets back to a regular routine in his practice, the sound subsides.

For some people it can be a red flag something is wrong somewhere in their body, and they should talk to their doctor.

There are treatments being studied like Gama knife radio surgery, Teflon implants and neuro stimulators.  The best thing available now, according to Wilks, is a hearing aid.

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