Tinnitus is a common hearing problem. It is not a specific medical condition, but rather a symptom of various other conditions. Tinnitus is characterized by the perception of constant noise in the ear.
The nature of the noise may include:
A vast number of factors can cause tinnitus. It can be acute or chronic. It can be treated and managed. However, it could worsen due to the combination of other factors, including age.
Although the type, severity, and cause of Tinnitus may vary, it can be classified as one of two main kinds: Objective Tinnitus and Subjective Tinnitus.
Objective Tinnitus produces sounds the ear which a doctor or audiologist can actually hear during an examination, using a device.
Subjective Tinnitus is the most common type and involves sounds in the ear that only the person with tinnitus can hear.
Tinnitus is not usually considered serious or life-threatening. Mostly it affects the quality of life as the constant noise can interfere with one’s ability to concentrate, function or to hear other sounds. There are treatments and therapies, which can lessen the symptoms of tinnitus.
Tinnitus occurs under the following conditions:
- Your tinnitus appears suddenly, and without apparent cause.
- It is accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness and hearing loss
- Your tinnitus occurs after you have experienced an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and the tinnitus does not subside within a week.
The causes of tinnitus can range from problems with the inner, middle or outer ear. Damage to the auditory nerve and to parts of the brain can also cause tinnitus. There are a large number of ailments and types of trauma, which could lead to this type of damage.
Some common causes of tinnitus are:
- Age-related hearing loss: People over 60 are more prone to tinnitus
- Smoking can increase the risk of developing tinnitus
- Exposure to loud noises: Temporary exposure to loud noise ( such as attending a concert) can cause temporary tinnitus that subsides within hours or days. In extreme cases, it can cause hearing damage and tinnitus. Frequent and prolonged exposure to loud noise can lead to permanent hearing damage and to tinnitus.
- Injuries: head, neck and ear injuries can lead to temporary or permanent tinnitus
- Blockages in the ear: having a foreign object lodged in the ear or even a build-up of earwax can lead to tinnitus.
- Cardiovascular Conditions: these can interfere with proper blood flow within the ear and affect your hearing functionality
- Otosclerosis: a bone condition that causes the stiffening of the bones within the inner ear
- Various types of Cancer: Including head and neck tumors
Tinnitus can also occur because of various types of medications. These include:
- Aspirin (usually when overdosed)
- Certain diuretics
- Cancer medications
- Certain illegal recreational drugs, especially hallucinogenic drugs
Since tinnitus is symptoms of various, other conditions, the only way to prevent it is to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing the conditions, which cause it.
The one direct way to protect your hearing is to avoid exposure to loud noises wherever possible. Avoid listening to loud music and lower the volume of your earphones. If you live and work in a particularly loud environment, protective ear-wear can prove helpful.
Some forms of tinnitus are acute and will dissipate as the condition with causes it is resolved. Tinnitus can sometimes be treated with certain medications.
For more chronic forms of tinnitus, there are various treatments such as:
- Hearing aids
- Sound therapy: which works to treat parts of the brain, which controls hearing.
- Counselling: Tinnitus can have many psychological implications. It can cause depression, anxiety, concentration and learning complications. For those living with chronic tinnitus, counselling and education about tinnitus may help them to learn to manage the implications of tinnitus within their lives.
Although it is a common problem, there is still a lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding tinnitus. Many do not understand exactly what it is or what their treatment options are. We at Tami Mehl Audiology strive to bridge that knowledge gap and to educate people about tinnitus. We also offer a range of treatments and counselling services to help those living with tinnitus.
If you believe that you or someone you know may be suffering from tinnitus, contact us and let us help!
I was seen by Tami Mehl at my ripe old age of 85. It is an absolute pleasure to have dealt with someone who is so respectful and caring of us old folks. With her patience and understanding, she walked me through the hearing tests and sorted out the best hearing aids for my lifestyle. I would certainly recommend Tami to all of my friends. I cannot express my gratitude in how the hearing aids have enhanced my lifestyle.