What is Tinnitus?

Do your ears constantly ring or hum? Do you experience phantom sounds that aren’t actually there? Hearing noises in your ears that don’t correlate to the external sounds around you is related to a condition called tinnitus. Learn more about this common sign of hearing loss and what you can do if you’re experiencing the effects of tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus Exactly?

Tinnitus is an ear and brain condition that is most often caused by hearing loss, acoustic trauma, and malfunction in the brain or eardrum. It’s most commonly associated with phantom noises but unlike some hearing conditions, tinnitus affects everyone differently. Some people experience whistling or humming sounds, others experience random changes in pitch, volume and perception. The sounds may also originate in just one ear or in different areas of the head. 

Scientists have discovered that tinnitus can develop in the inner ear, middle ear, or the brain. Specific triggers are not yet fully understood, however, doctors believe that inflammation, tumours and damage to the eardrum or auditory nerve is to blame. Tinnitus is also commonly associated with age-related hearing loss and a number of other contributing factors such as severe stress, exposure to excessive noise, and substance abuse could also trigger tinnitus symptoms. Scientists have also found that certain hearing loss disorders such as Meniere’s disease and medications used to treat malaria, depression, and rheumatism have also been directly related to causing tinnitus side effects.  

How Can You Tell You Have Tinnitus?

Here are some of the symptoms you will experience if you have tinnitus:

  • You hear noises no one else hears
  • The noise does not have a source
  • Constant or periodic clicking, hissing, whistling, or humming sounds
  • Grinding or crunching noises
  • Changes in tone, pitch and volume
  • Changes in sound perception

How Long Does it Last?

Some people experience acute tinnitus that lasts for less than three months and then stops.  Others may experience subacute tinnitus that recurs every three to twelve months in waves. Finally, some people will have a more severe form, known as chronic tinnitus with symptoms lasting over twelve months and even for the rest of their lives.  

What Are the Health Implications?

Tinnitus is not fully understood just yet. However, scientists believe that the condition is not dangerous or directly related to permanent hearing loss. Most people who experience tinnitus through experience mental and emotional decline due to the constant phantom sounds they hear. The constant, annoying background sounds can not only disturb sleep patterns but also concentration, impacting their day to day life. 

What Do You Do If You Suspect You Have Tinnitus?

In some cases, these noises will go away on their own, but if they keep coming back or are constant for more than 24 hours, it’s time to see a specialist. The sooner you seek the advice of an expert audiologist, the higher your chances of preventing acute or chronic tinnitus will be. 

What Solutions are Available?

There is no known cure for tinnitus, but there are several treatment options that can help reduce the symptoms and provide you with some real needed relief. Depending on the causes and severity of your tinnitus, the audiologist might recommend preventative measures such as switching medications or wearing earbuds to reduce your exposure to loud noises that can trigger the symptoms. Cognitive behavioural therapy or tinnitus management programs might also be suggested to regain control over the condition. If you’re experiencing acute tinnitus or more serious cases, a hearing aid can help. The hearing aid will help mask the phantom sounds and help contrast the symptoms of tinnitus and allow one to focus on the actual sounds around them. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with tinnitus contact us at The Hearing Clinic. Our caring and professional audiologist team will perform a number of tests to determine the underlying cause and best treatment options available to mask and eliminate the sounds. We can also help treat any hearing loss issues you may also be experiencing. Reach out today to get the relief you need!