The experience of hearing sounds that are not triggered by anything around us is known as tinnitus. It is typically associated with hearing loss due to natural aging or noisy sound exposure, but it may also result from other ear conditions.
Over the past year, approximately 10 percent of the U.S. adult population, about 25 million Americans, has had tinnitus that lasts at least five minutes. For individuals aged 65 to 84 years, about 27 percent have the condition.
Everybody can get it. There are instances of children having tinnitus, but in older adults, it is more common. Perhaps you went to a very noisy concert or have just recovered from a cold infection-you may have already experienced it for a short time.
The varying nature of Tinnitus
Everyone experiences tinnitus differently. Here is how it may differ from individual to individual:
- Length: It could hang around, or it could be sporadic.
- The number of sounds: You might hear only one sound, or it might sound like a few sounds.
- Volume: The volume can differ throughout the day
- Pitch: The sounds may be low or high pitch.
- The sound itself: It sounds like ringing most of the time, but it can also be whistling, humming, or crackling as well.
- Location: It could be in just one ear or heard in the middle or even on the top of the head!
How do we get Tinnitus?
We are still not entirely sure what causes tinnitus, but we know it is probable that hearing loss is associated. Hearing loss is also present in over 90 percent of people with tinnitus.
This kind of hearing loss is thought to be the product of a brain-generated 'noise.' Frayed hair cells in the inner ear send incomplete sound signals to the brain when they are impaired by loud noise or aging. Since the brain is not used to such little information, it overcompensates by 'interpreting' sounds that are not there. This noise is what Tinnitus is thought to be.
Less frequently, tinnitus is caused by a blockage or ear disease that affects the outside or middle eye, preventing sound waves from being introduced into the inner eye. This is called a conductive hearing loss. Excessive earwax, a burst eardrum, or ear infection can cause this hearing loss.
Tinnitus's effect on the person can range from almost zero to the point where day-to-day life can be severely impeded. A recent study of tinnitus sufferers found that 26 percent had chronic and recurrent symptoms, and 30 percent considered their tinnitus problems to be "moderate" to "very large," significantly affecting their lives.
If the condition is affecting you enough to cause trouble sleeping or concentration, it is time to seek professional help.
We can help manage your tinnitus
Come and see us if you have to have issues dealing with your tinnitus. A professional hearing test from us can help decide whether the cause is hearing loss or any other auditory-related medical disorder. This is the first step in the treatment of tinnitus. We can also discuss tinnitus's impact on your everyday life.
Tinnitus has hundreds of potential causes, and it affects every person differently, so it's important to remember that there are many ways to treat the symptoms. However, it cannot be fully cured.
Effective treatment depends on the person and the extent of your symptoms. However, for many tinnitus sufferers, hearing aids have helped things considerably. Many hearing aids come with a bank of soothing sounds and increase the overall 'volume' level of the sounds around you. This helps relegate the effect of tinnitus to the back of the mind, and many learn to ignore the sounds as a result.
If you’ve been struggling with tinnitus, it’s time to stop suffering in silence! Contact us to find out how we can help you manage those persistent sounds and help you get on with living your life.