What is Tinnitus?
One of the most commonly experienced hearing problems is a ringing in the ears, also known as Tinnitus. While not an actual cause of hearing loss, Tinnitus can occur as a result of hearing loss.
If you suspect you’re experiencing Tinnitus, take our online hearing test or make a booking enquiry.
Defined as any sound heard within your ears that doesn’t come from an external source.
Tinnitus is often described as a buzzing or a ringing in the ears but can also be heard as a clicking, roaring and, when heard in time with the sufferer’s heartbeat, is referred to as Pulsatile Tinnitus.
Many Australians will have tinnitus at some point in their life, ranging from very mild to severe, however as our brains tune out unimportant sounds, it is common not to notice mild Tinnitus after a while. Most people with Tinnitus have some sort of induced hearing loss and the noise that Tinnitus produces can permanently damage parts of the ear, including the cochlea.
For those who need silence to sleep or concentrate however, Tinnitus can lead to increased stress and anxiety and often this stress can cause the sufferer’s brain to flag the sound as important and amplify it, making the condition worse.
Tinnitus can have a significant impact on the sufferer’s life affecting their ability to sleep, concentrate and relax. If you experience Tinnitus it is strongly recommended that you have a full diagnostic hearing assessment.
What are the symptoms of Tinnitus? Symptoms are limited to sounds heard that are not actually present:
Symptoms can be continuous or they can come and go.
What are the causes of Tinnitus? The main cause of Tinnitus is damage caused to the small hair cells within our ears.
Other causes include:
- Loud noises, such a construction noise
- Prolonged exposure to loud noise in your work environment
- Hearing injuries
- Ear infections
- High blood pressure
- TMJ problems
Hearing loss results in Tinnitus, as your brain works to compensate for the diminished number of external stimuli and consequently creates sounds to make up for the absence of external sound. Tinnitus can also, occasionally, be caused by medications.
There are numerous factors too, which have been identified as aggravating existing Tinnitus, including: substances such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and marijuana; and stress and fatigue.
While Tinnitus symptoms can be aggravated in a wide range of ways, many of these aggravating factors are related to the causes themselves. For example, loud noises and medications can both cause tinnitus symptoms and they can also play a role in making it worse.
What available treatments are there for Tinnitus? If you think you have Tinnitus, it’s important to make an appointment with an audiologist and undergo a comprehensive hearing test.
- Neuromonics behavioral therapies: aimed at treating the root cause of the stress and anxiety which can amplify Tinnitus
- Changing your diet: cutting down on caffeine, nicotine and alcohol which cause a narrowing of blood vessels and can limit the oxygen supply to your ears
- Hearing aids: can be used to help manage the hearing loss often associated with Tinnitus
- Therapeutic noise generators: to help change how the brain perceives the condition
- Retraining therapy: can provide a range of environmental sounds to mask Tinnitus
- Changing your lifestyle: introducing relaxation techniques, sports or yoga if stress and fatigue make your symptoms worse
- Environmental sounds: can help to reduce the audibility of your Tinnitus. Playing soft background sounds with a white noise machine can help to drown out the ringing of Tinnitus, these sounds can include static, waves crashing or soft music
While not all treatments will completely cure Tinnitus, there are ways to prevent it from getting worse.
Using hearing protection is vital to ensure you don’t do any further damage to your ears. It is also important to only use this hearing protection for the duration which you need it and removing it immediately after, as hearing protection can increase your perception of your existing Tinnitus. Engaging in activities to reduce your overall level of stress can also help to reduce the impact of Tinnitus on your life. Tinnitus and stress can be cyclical with one exacerbating the other, by reducing the level of stress in your life you can significantly reduce its impact on your Tinnitus.
Your Hearing Technology Experts
If some of these symptoms ring true for you, you may be experiencing hearing loss. Thankfully, modern technology has created hearing aids that deliver truly amazing hearing improvements while remaining virtually undetectable.
Bay Audio are the hearing technology experts, and can find the perfect hearing aid for you to ensure you can continue to enjoy life as normal. If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, book a hearing test with one of our experts now.