Both tinnitus and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are common conditions affecting millions of Americans. Additionally, there is reason to believe the two conditions may be linked.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often experienced as a ringing in the ear. However, patients have also described it as clicking, buzzing, roaring, whooshing, or other noises as well. In the vast majority of cases, tinnitus is subjective, meaning it can only be heard by the person experiencing it and not an objective third party like a physician.
Tinnitus is a symptom of many other conditions and finding out what is causing your tinnitus can be essential in developing a treatment plan. However, there are cases when no obvious cause can be found.
What Is GERD?
GERD is a digestive disorder that occurs when the esophageal sphincter is weakened or relaxed, and stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. While most people experience the occasional bout of heartburn, frequent episodes likely mean you have GERD. Symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Chronic cough
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
- A sensation of a lump in your throat
Can GERD Increase Your Risk of Tinnitus?
While a definitive link has not been found, research into how GERD affects hearing does offer clues as to how it might increase your risk of tinnitus as well. Studies show that people who experience a high frequency of acid reflux symptoms are at a greater risk of hearing loss. This may occur because GERD can expose your ear to gastric acid, causing damage.
Many people who have hearing loss also experience tinnitus, which makes it reasonable to assume that GERD can increase your risk of both conditions.
Experiencing GERD Symptoms?
See a doctor for chronic acid reflux symptoms. Treating GERD may reduce your risk of developing tinnitus and hearing loss, as well as prevent other complications such as an increased risk of certain cancers. A combination of medication and lifestyle changes may be used to manage your condition.
Some people may not need treatment for their tinnitus. However, in severe or chronic cases, tinnitus can impact your sleep and work and even make it difficult to do simple things like meet up with friends for dinner at New Thai Café. In these situations, treatment is essential in these cases for improving your quality of life.
- Acoustic therapy
- Tinnitus retraining therapy
- Hearing aids (if due to hearing loss)
- Steroid injections
- Cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call South Valley Ear Nose & Throat today.