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News: What’s that ringing in your ears?

What’s that ringing in your ears?

What’s that ringing in your ears?

07/02/2017 - Hearing Aids, Tinnitus, Treatment

Tinnitus affects almost 1 in 5 Australians. What is it? What causes it? When does it show up? What can be done to treat it?

What is tinnitus?

Imagine a constant noise in your head. A noise that never lets up. It’s there when you try to sleep and there when you wake up. You can be in the quietest place on Earth, yet tinnitus follows you wherever you go.

From a slight high pitched noise to a locomotive constantly in your head tinnitus is different for everyone.

The biggest consideration is to understand that the noise a person hears is not imagined. It is real and a symptom of a malfunction somewhere in the hearing system.

What causes tinnitus?

There are many causes of tinnitus and sometimes it is brought on or aggravated not just by one of these causes but many.

Here’s a list of just a few of the known causes and aggravators:

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Middle ear infections
  • Age related hearing loss
  • Some prescription drugs
  • Compacted ear wax
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Head injury

As you can see there are many causes but the most common cause is exposure to loud noises. This could be loud concerts or industrial noise or even listening to your headphones loudly for a long time. Over time this loud noise can damage the fine hairs inside your cochlea. Once damaged, the hearing nerve attached to these hair bundles can trigger, even if there is no sound that normally triggers the nerve.

How does tinnitus affect people?

The effects vary from person to person and depends on the severity of the. Most people can cope with the slight constant annoying sound, but for others the disease can lead to ongoing problems.

There can be psychological consequences for sufferers. They can be concerned the sound will grow and become so annoying they think they will literally go insane. This is an extreme case but the constant noise can deprive sufferers of sleep leading to shortened attention spans, lack of concentration and even depression.

Is there a tinnitus cure?

It would be great if there was a magic bullet, but unfortunately there is no cure.

Over time some treatment and management options have been trialled and developed and there is constant progress in the field. The current best treatments and remedies include:

  • Hearing aids: If the cause is hearing loss related, solving the hearing loss allows people to hear softer sounds they otherwise might miss. These sounds in turn masks the tinnitus.
  • Masking devices: Masking devices create a different sound to mask the offending perception of the noise. White noise, ocean waves or music are created in the same pitch of the tinnitus to help cancel it out.
  • Neuromonics: Neuromonics uses specially formulated music to mask and break the loop with the emotional area of the brain, which reduces the stress associated with tinnitus. Neuromonics also includes some counselling to help the sufferer emotionally deal with the tinnitus.

Tinnitus plagues up to 20% of the Australian population at some point in their lives and many can struggle to live with it. No matter how bad it is, the sooner a treatment and management plan is developed, the better the long-term outcome for the sufferer. If you do suffer from tinnitus, speak to your audiologist today to see what steps you can take to lessen the impact of this disease.

 

 

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