Tinnitus is a sound that seems like it’s coming from your ears, but it’s actually a sound coming from inside your head.
People have described this sound as a lot of different things, but most people seem to hear it as a ringing or buzzing sound. Others talk about a clicking or chirping sound, and some people have even said that it can sound like waves.
How Common Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is quite common. At least 15% of the population have experienced some degree of tinnitus in their life.
About two-thirds of people who experience tinnitus find it to be mild and it doesn’t affect their life much. But about 15 million of them have tinnitus that is bothersome enough for them to seek help.
And then about 2 million people have tinnitus that has completely upended their life to the point where they can’t work or get a good night’s sleep, and it has lost them close relationships from the accompanying stress and depression.
How Can Tinnitus Cause Daily Challenges?
Tinnitus can bother people day to day because it starts to be all they hear. It’s difficult for them to try to focus on other sounds when the constant ringing is there.
Tinnitus can affect a person’s sleep if it’s very loud and can cause them to miss out on other sounds that are important, especially at work.
Why Do People Experience Ringing in the Ears?
It’s not really known why some people experience ringing in their ears, but the medical community has put out certain theories. One is that when tinnitus is due to a hearing loss, the brain makes up sounds to replace what it is not hearing.
What Are the Different Types of Tinnitus?
The two main different types of tinnitus are subjective and objective.
Subjective tinnitus is the type most people experience and it relates to the internal noises the auditory system is creating.
Objective tinnitus is a lot rarer, and the noises heard are also heard by others. They are usually caused by blood flow or certain muscular or skeletal movements.
Pulsatile tinnitus is a lot less common. It is when a person hears a whooshing or heartbeat sound in their ears. It can be because of an old brain trauma or a current ear infection, allergies, or inflamed ears. I’ve found that the sound can often go away once the cause is treated.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Hearing loss is the main cause of tinnitus, and hearing loss is mainly caused by aging or loud noise exposure. But tinnitus can happen at any age.
Loud noise exposure can happen in the form of a one-off loud event like a concert or a fireworks display, or it can be exposure that’s happened over a long time.
You’ll find that people in loud noise work environments might tend to have tinnitus more, such as regular military exercises or working with construction or industrial equipment every day. (This is why hearing protection is so important.)
Other causes of tinnitus include muscular stress or tension, earwax buildup, certain ototoxic medications, brain or ear trauma, long-term COVID, and certain medical diseases.
Is There a Cure for Tinnitus?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus, but there are many successful treatment methods that we use here at South Sound Audiology that help patients manage the sound.
Tinnitus management has seen patients eliminate the troubling symptoms through several advanced solutions.
What Can Be Done for Tinnitus?
If the tinnitus is caused by a hearing loss, hearing aids are the first thing we prescribe. In some cases, the tinnitus stops the moment the hearing aids are turned on.
Other treatments include sound therapies (built into newer hearing aid apps), behavioral therapies, general wellness choices, changing certain medications, and treatment of any medical issues.
What Causes Tinnitus to Get Worse?
There are a number of things that can make tinnitus worse.
- Diet – caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugar, and salt
- Noise – loud noise exposure, including high earbud/headphone volume
- Air travel – frequent time spent in the air
- Stress – contributes to musculoskeletal pain, and TMJ
- Medications – some are known to damage auditory nerves
- Earwax buildup
- Sleep deprivation
What Can You Expect during Tinnitus Management?
One thing to know about tinnitus treatment is that improvement happens over a period of months. There’s no instant fix for it most of the time, and the trick is to stay consistent with the treatment prescribed.
Supporting a Loved One with Tinnitus
Believe the person who says that their tinnitus is bothersome and do what you can to educate yourself on all the symptoms of this.
Living with tinnitus can be frustrating and cause the person to feel powerless to change things. Your ongoing support and understanding will be invaluable.
If they decide to cut out everything that makes tinnitus worse, consider joining them. It will improve your general health in the process and give you both common goals to aim for.
Concerned You or a Loved One Has Tinnitus?
If you or a loved one has tinnitus, then come see me! I have so many resources for treating your tinnitus, and I would love to help relieve the sound that you hear so that your life can get back to normal.
Also, please feel free to call me with any questions. If we don’t answer immediately, we’ll call back as soon as we can.