Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is the ringing in my ear actually tinnitus?"
I heard about tinnitus and think I might have it. I have a kind of constant ringing in my ears. It isn't bad but how can I treat it? I'm only 19 so I wouldn't think my ears would already be bad, but it is really loud where I work (factory). Would a doctor be able to tell me if I have tinnitus?
I would recommend that you go see your doctor, especially if these symptoms have been going on for a while. The most common cause for tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is due to age-related changes in the hearing, and this commonly occurs in middle aged and elderly adults. However, in someone your age, ringing in the ears is almost always due to injury to the ears, usually from very loud noises (such as listening to headphones too loud, or working in a very noisy environment). Your doctor will be able to confirm the diagnosis of tinnitus after asking some questions, and they will also evaluate you to see if you have had any hearing loss. This may require a referral to an audiologist for a formal hearing evaluation. I think it is very likely that your noisy job environment is the cause of your tinnitus. In addition to making sure you haven't had any significant damage to your hearing, it will be very important going forward to make sure that you are wearing hearing protection at all times while working there. If you do not do so, you may be at risk of continued damage to your ears over time.
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