How Lack of Sleep Can Impact Hearing Loss

Tinnitus, also known as ringing in ears, is the perception of sound in your head with no external source. The sound comes in forms of ringing, chirping, whistling, buzzing, humming, roaring, hissing or shrieking. Developing tinnitus is common, affecting 15 to 20 percent of people worldwide, and as many as 50 to 60 million people in the United States. 

Tinnitus is frequently found in people over the age of 55 and is often associated with hearing loss. However, it is rare for tinnitus to lead to serious medical issues like going deaf. Doctors find that tinnitus has different levels of severity to it. Temporary tinnitus, which comes from exposure to loud sounds and noises, typically lasts 16 to 48 hours, while extreme cases may last a week or two. However, if chronic tinnitus is developed, the ear ringing and hearing loss can last over six months. While chronic tinnitus rarely poses any serious medical threats, it can be a symptom of other issues one may have, like Meniere’s disease. Therefore, if you feel the ringing in your ears, it is important to contact your doctor for a thorough evaluation

What are the causes of Tinnitus?ringing in ears

The causes of tinnitus are typically uncertain, but usually it’ll stem from some form of damage done to your auditory nerves. Other potential sources are jaw joint dysfunction, chronic neck muscle strains, cardiovascular disease, wax buildup, or the use of certain medications or drugs. Anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin,, aleve and ibuprofen are potential triggers, so it is crucial to be in contact with your doctor to ensure these every-day medications are safe to consume.

How to stop ringing in the ears, and what are effective treatments?

There are a few different coping strategies that health professionals recommend in dealing with tinnitus. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common treatment where techniques like cognitive restructuring and relaxation exercises can alter the way one reacts to their symptoms. A lot of the time, doctors recommend the use of diaries to build up their coping skills. CBT may not ultimately lower the intensity of the ringing, but it can help reduce the feeling of aggravation and improve overall quality of life. 

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is a technique used for cases that occur from atypical neuronal activity. The goal of TRT is to attune one’s auditory system to the tinnitus signals to make them less noticeable. The components of TRT are sound therapy and counseling, usually done through the explaining of the auditory system and how tinnitus develops. 

Sound therapy is executed using a device that is inserted in the ear and generates low-level noises and sounds that match the intensity of the patient’s tinnitus. Studies show that 80 percent of patients suffering from high-pitched tinnitus have reported that TRT has improved their symptoms. 

Masking Devices

Masking devices are another form of treatment recommended by professionals. A hearing aid is a commonly used device that generates low-level noise to reduce the ringing sound. It is important to note that the masking devices don’t have to be specialized, and at times listening to soothing music, the radio, having a fan on, or even a white noise machine can serve as an effective buffer. 

Biofeedback and Stress Management

Biofeedback and Stress Management are other techniques that professionals recommend for those struggling with their symptoms. Stress can make tinnitus worse, and techniques like biofeedback help promote relaxation to control stress levels. 

Electrodes are attached to the patient’s skin and relays information to a device about pulse, skin temperature, and muscle tension. Using this information, patients can work on reducing stress by altering their thoughts and feelings. 

Schedule a consultation with the experts at Michigan Avenue Hearing Health to properly diagnose your symptoms.

Hearing loss or hearing impairment is a common condition for people of all ages. Roughly 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children born in the United States are born with hearing loss in either one or both of their ears. Additionally, based on a collection of standard hearing evaluations, 1 in 8 people in the U.S. 12 years or older suffer from hearing loss in one or two of their ears. For people, ages 65 to 75, one-third of the population has some form of hearing loss, and once past age 75, that number jumps to one-half of the population.

What causes loss of hearing and can it be cured?

Causes for sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form of hearing loss include:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Extreme exposure to loud noises
  • Ototoxic drugs

Typically the damage will be done to the ear’s cochlea, also known as the inner ear. Inside the cochlea are rows of little hair cells that are responsible for hearing sound. Over time, the hair cells can get destroyed or badly damaged, causing hearing loss that is only reparable through the use of hearing aids or other listening devices.

Conductive hearing loss is another form of hearing loss, which typically comes from a blockage or damage done to the outer or middle ear. Tumors or excessive amounts of earwax are usually the cause for this. Conductive hearing loss is temporary and can usually be fixed by a professional through antibiotics, flushing of the ear canal for ear wax compaction, or surgery.

What can I do to improve my hearing and prevent hearing loss?

Aside from avoiding loud noises and taking appropriate medication, maintaining a healthy diet is a recommended way to keep your auditory system in good shape. Studies show that maintaining a diet that consists of fruits and vegetables can reduce your chances of hearing loss by 30 percent.

While there isn’t one nutrient that is directly attributed to good health, eating foods such as dark chocolate, bananas, spinach, and nuts all include nutrients that are linked to good hearing.

Another eating plan recommended by professionals is following a Mediterranean diet. This diet consists of plant-based foods such as whole grains and nuts, with olive and canola oil replacing butter, herbs and spices replacing salt, and fish and chicken as the meal’s protein.

If a strict diet isn’t for you, there are four different minerals available in a variety of foods that are linked to improved hearing. These minerals are potassium, zinc, folate and magnesium.

Benefits of Minerals to Improve Hearing


Potassium is largely responsible for regulating and maintaining the fluids in a person’s inner ear. As people get older, their fluid levels typically decrease, which can lead to hearing loss. Potassium is also effective in lowering one’s blood pressure. Potassium is found in various foods, such as tomatoes, potatoes, lima beans, raisins, apricots, bananas, spinach, melons, oranges, yogurt, and low-fat milk.


Zinc is a crucial mineral for the body’s immune system as it protects against germs and potential ear infections. Research shows a correlation between zinc deficiency in the human body and the development of tinnitus. Zinc also metabolizes nutrients and helps grow and repair worn down body tissue. Zinc is found in cells all over the body, but a person’s inner ear is what contains the greatest amount of zinc. Foods rich with zinc are chickpeas, lentils, beans, nuts, eggs, dairy products, dark chicken, and red meat.


Folate or folic acid is a B vitamin that regulates blood flow, increases body circulation, and helps in the creation of new body cells, all essential qualities in the functioning of the inner ear. Folate is usually supplemented by folic acid, its synthetic form often found in dietary supplements. Adults with low folate levels are more likely to develop hearing loss. Folate is found in foods such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, beans, peas, lentils, and organ meats.


Lastly, magnesium assists in strengthening the body’s bones, maintaining a steady heart rhythm, and maintaining normal blood pressure. Consumption of magnesium is known to help the body react to loud noises, and in protecting the inner ear’s hair cells. Magnesium is found in many fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, tofu, seeds, and whole grains.

Don’t Put off Your Hearing Until it’s too Late

Hearing loss is a cumulative process in which gradual damage is done to the auditory system over time. Due to its lengthy process, people don’t notice signals of hearing loss until it begins to disrupt their daily life.

To lessen the chances of prolonged untreated hearing damage, it’s important to schedule hearing consultations once a year and to be in touch with your doctor if you feel any discomfort.

If you have ever heard a ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or whooshing noise in your ears or head, which is not coming from an external sound, you may have what is known as tinnitus – and you are not alone.

Many people experience this occasionally for a few minutes and then it goes away. But for about 50 million Americans the noise is constant and does not go away. This is considered chronic tinnitus.

Identify Tinnitus Causes

Chronic tinnitus can become debilitating if you do not seek help. It is strongly advised that you see your Primary Care Provider (PCP) an Audiologist or an Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor to determine if you have a medical reason for the tinnitus or if it is due to hearing loss. Research shows that 80% of people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss. An audiologist can identify and diagnose hearing loss and explain the workings of the auditory process. This information and understanding of the tinnitus can alone demystify the sound and in most cases break the cycle of emotional annoyance resulting in no need for treatment.

However, in some cases medical concerns can be the cause of tinnitus. It is therefore recommended that a PCP or ENT and an audiologist be consulted to rule out treatable medical issue such as ear wax, ear infection, ear disease, ototoxic medication, sudden hearing loss, head trauma, TMJ, allergies, sinus conditions, tumor, and high blood pressure. Once medical conditions are addressed or ruled out then tinnitus treatment may be initiated.

Tinnitus Treatments

It is important to note that for those who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and insomnia triggered by the tinnitus there is help. In fact, if you see a healthcare professional who tells you nothing can be done- do not listen, nothing can be further from the truth. Find a different provider, preferably one who is experienced in understanding and treating tinnitus. This is also the advice from the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) which is an organization dedicated to education and research in tinnitus. Their website has valuable information in helping individuals understand and cope with tinnitus.

Tinnitus treatments may include:

  • Sound therapy via white noise machines, ear level sound generators, sleep phones, sound pillows, and sound phone apps.
  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). Therapy that teaches coping strategies and habituation to tinnitus.
  • Sound enrichment via amplification with hearing aids if hearing loss is present.
  • Stress reduction through music, meditation, exercise, ear massage, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, and guided imagery.
  • Personal hearing protection in loud noise to prevent hearing damage.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Counseling therapy provided by a psychologist for individuals highly distressed by tinnitus.

The exact pathophysiology of tinnitus is still unknown. Theories suggest that missing or damaged hair cells in the inner ear from hearing loss, send aberrant signals to the auditory nervous system and the brain mistakenly interprets the signal as sound (tinnitus). The severity of the tinnitus may be influenced by negative counseling, stress at work or at home, fear of not knowing what is going on and events in one’s own life.

It is vital to seek immediate care if you are experiencing sudden hearing loss and vertigo as well as pain or have sustained a head or neck trauma. But anyone that experiences tinnitus that is pulsatile, asymmetric, or does not go away should consult an audiologist and ENT.

Tinnitus Prevention

Some tinnitus may be prevented. Protecting your hearing from loud noise or music by using personal and appropriate hearing protection can prevent hearing damage that may lead to tinnitus. Avoiding loud environments and turning the volume down on music can prevent damage to the delicate structures in the inner ear. When operating loud equipment such as drills, hammers or power saws remember to wear hearing protection. Hobbies such as hunting, target shooting, and race cars are extremely loud and require hearing protection. Adopting a heart healthy diet as well as exercise and stress reduction is highly recommended to maintain and improve general health as well as hearing health. Avoiding medications that are toxic to the ear is also recommended. The combination of ototoxic medication and loud noise exposure should be avoided to prevent negative synergistic effects.

Seek Treatment for Tinnitus & Hearing Issues Today

Tinnitus is very rarely caused by a life threatening medical issue. If your tinnitus continues for more than a week, make an appointment at Michigan Avenue Hearing Health in downtown Chicago to see your doctor to begin the process of understanding and managing your tinnitus.

Authored by: Janaan Moore, Au.D., Doctor of Audiology


Douglas Beck, AuD., Hearing Journal, June 2011, Hearing Aid Amplification and Tinnitus: 2011 Overview
Jason Leyendecker, Au.D., Adjunct Faculty, A.T. Still University, Tinnitus Course 733, 2018-2019
Robert Sweetow, PHD, and Anne Mette Kragh Jeppesen, MA, Hearing Review, July 2012, A New Integrated Pogram for Tinnitus Patient Management: Widex Zen Therapy

If the ringing, buzzing or hissing sounds in your head or ears is becoming overwhelming, it’s time to consult an audiologist as you may have tinnitus.

Michigan Avenue Hearing Health has put together some of the most common questions related to tinnitus and provided some answers to help you understand this condition, why it mayhappen, and the treatment options available. 

How Common is Tinnitus? 

Nearly 15% of the population (or 50 million people) experience tinnitus according to the American Tinnitus Association. Only 20% of those however seem medical care.  

Does tinnitus ever go away on its own?

While the symptoms associated with tinnitus can lessen with time, if it continues for several days, weeks or months, it’s absolutely neccessary that you consult a qualified audiologist in your area to determine if there is a more substantive auditory malfunction.

Can tinnitus be cured naturally without pharmaceutical drugs?

Know that there are numerous opportunities to treat tinnitus, but there is currently no natural remedy or over-the-counter drug that will be useful in treating this condition over the long term.

What foods are good for tinnitus sufferers?

There is a great deal of debate about whether food intake can lessen the discomfort of tinnitus sufferers. While maintain a healthy diet and staying hydrated are advised for everyone, those suffering from tinnitus may find some relief in foods high in potassium such as bananas or those known to have anti-inflammatory properties including leafy greens, nuts, fruits and fish. 

Interested in learning more about tinnitus? 

Discover the most common causes of tinnitus, available treatment options, and preventitive measures you can take to ensure your hearing health.


Tinnitus is one of the more common hearing ailments and there can be a range of causes for the condition which is frequently described as noise or ringing in the ears. 

While difficult to diagnose, tinnitus is often the result of an age related hearing loss or ear injury but can also be a symptom of an underlying circulatory system disorder.  That’s why it is important to consult with a qualified audiologist.

If you’re currently experiencing what you believe to be Tinnitus, do not delay – contact us for an immediate evaluation.  

Consider the following statistics and facts on tinnitus:

  • Approximately 15 to 20 percent of people suffer from the effects of Tinnitus (that’s millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans who have experienced the condition at some point in their life).  
  • Seniors are more prone to suffering from the effects of tinnitus, with the prevalence of the condition for people aged 65 to 84 being nearly 27 percent. 
  • Every year, 16 million people seek medical attention for Tinnitus
  • While no cure exists for the condition, approximately 80% of tinnitus sufferers report some measure of relief by using hearing aids.
Interested in learning more about tinnitus? 

Discover the most common causes of tinnitus, available treatment options, and preventitive measures you can take to ensure your hearing health.


Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a complex condition that can be present in children as well as adults. It is a fascinating and somewhat controversial area of study. It wasn’t too long ago that the disorder was not widely accepted to exist. Perhaps this contributes to the mystery surrounding the disorder.

It wasn’t until 2005 that The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) published an official policy stating that “the scientific evidence is sufficient to support the existence of CAPD as a diagnostic entity.” An auditory processing disorder is considered to be the inability to understand speech in the absence of hearing loss.

Jeanane Ferre, PhD, CCC-A, a practicing audiologist in Chicago and leader in the study and treatment of CAPD explains that central auditory processing is “how we use the information that we hear.” For example, she states “Many people have Good Hearing but do not use information efficiently or quickly enough to meet the demands of classroom or everyday listening”. Frank Musiek, PhD, CCC-A, audiologist and researcher describes auditory processing as “How well the ear talks to the brain, and how well the brain understands what the ear tells it.”

The implications of undiagnosed or untreated CAPD are vast. The disorder can affect learning particularly in areas like reading and spelling. For children or adolescents this can put them behind in school and manifest in poor motivation and low self-esteem potentially adversely affecting their future success. CAPD can affect a child or adolescent socially and emotionally. Some CAPD problems result in misunderstanding the emotion or intent of a speaker. This can lead to hurt feelings and or interpersonal relationship difficulties.

Some of the signs or complaints of CAPD as listed by Ferre at may include the following:

  • difficulty hearing in noise or trouble hearing in groups
  • difficulty following directions and or needs frequent repetition seems to hear but does not understand
  • distractible, does not listen, short attention span, poor focus/concentration
  • speech language problem, weak memory skills
  • poor localization skills
  • problems in phonics, reading, spelling, written language

Some risk factors for children and adults may include:

  • history of ear infections or other otologic problems
  • history of learning disability
  • family history of learning problems
  • any disease, disorder or insult to the central nervous system that affects the auditory system, for example, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), space occupying lesions
  • vets exposed to combat-related trauma
  • aging population with presbycusis

Treatment is age specific and deficit specific. Treatment will be comprised of auditory therapy, environmental modifications, and compensatory strategies. Auditory therapy has several components some of which can be found in programs such as Angelsound, Fastforword, Earobics, Brain HQ and LACE. Environmental modifications may include reducing background noise or enhancing the speech signal through hearing aids or assistive listening devices. Compensatory strategies such as encouraging children to ask questions for clarification or using earplugs when studying to limit distracting noises are taught.

It is not recognized how much change can be expected from treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment is most effective. However problems can reoccur in adolescence or in adulthood or result from injury or disease.

If you think you or your child is a poor listener, frequently misunderstands speech and has difficulty following directions, the American Speech and Hearing Association suggests you consult an audiologist or speech language pathologist to determine if you have an auditory processing disorder.

Need more information? Check out these helpful resources:

About the Author: JanaanMoore, Au.D., Doctor of Audiology at Michigan Avenue Hearing Health.

 Every sound has a decibel measurement that helps determine your hearing ability and health, from a pin dropping to a balloon popping, from a fire cracker to a rocket launch.

While someone who can’t hear sounds on the lower end of the decibel scale may be experiencing hearing loss, someone who has been exposed to sounds on the higher end of this scale may have suffered harmful damage to their ears. Scroll below to see where common sounds fall on the decibel scale and schedule a hearing evaluation with Michigan Avenue to test your hearing health by measuring sensitivity to sounds at these varying decibel levels.

How loud is it infographic

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