Is your tinnitus a sign of an underlying illness?

For many patients, tinnitus is more than an annoying affliction — it may be a warning sign of an as-yet undiagnosed threat to your overall health. In some cases it may be the cause; in others the symptom. The following are just some of the serious conditions associated with tinnitus.

Meniere’s disease.

The combination of symptoms that are classified as Meniere’s disease include tinnitus. Those with this condition also experience bouts of dizziness and vertigo that can be debilitating, and hearing loss. To date the cause of Meniere’s disease has yet to be identified and there is no cure. Symptoms can be controlled in some by reducing salt intake, taking diuretics, and using anti-vertigo medications to manage attacks. Hearing aids can be used to treat any hearing loss.

Anxiety and depression.

For some tinnitus sufferers the constant humming becomes overwhelming, disturbing sleep and disrupting daily life. The constant noise can set off negative emotional and behavioral reactions that make you focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. For example, if tinnitus makes you feel stressed, you might lose interest in socializing. Acute anxiety, depression, chronic stress and similar disorders often result. These conditions may be eased by antidepressants and working with a therapist to find coping techniques. Hearing aids with tinnitus therapy features can also help by allowing you to concentrate on outside sounds. They can be used to provide relief even if you don’t have hearing loss.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).

TMD occurs when the jaw, jaw joint and muscles required for chewing, talking and moving the jaw do not function properly. Besides tinnitus symptoms often include toothaches and facial pain, headaches, dizziness and hearing problems. The cause may be as clear as an accident involving whiplash, grinding your teeth in your sleep or arthritis, or the reason may be more difficult to pinpoint. Treatments are available, including the following:

  • Wearing a mouthpiece at night
  • Dental correction
  • Injection of medications into the affected areas
  • Laster therapy
  • Surgery

Wondering if you have tinnitus? Use our checklist to help determine if you have this condition.

Review checklist.