Do you ever have a constant ringing, buzzing, swooshing or beating sound in your ear that just won’t go away?
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re going crazy, but let us assure you, what you’re actually experiencing is Tinnitus, and don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Tinnitus affects 15 million Americans a year, and can be summed up as the sensation of hearing sounds that aren’t in fact there…a bit like a mirage.
Where the intensity of Tinnitus changes from person to person, one thing that is constant is this: it’s incredibly annoying, especially as there’s no ‘cure’.
But, there are indeed many ways to soothe the symptoms, so, let’s just run through a few facts and then we’ll tell you what you can do should Tinnitus ever come knocking for you…
A few little facts about Tinnitus
- It can affect your sleep
- Irritability and anxiousness are common
- Concentration and focus can wean
- Can be accompanied by vertigo or pressure problems in the ear
But, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Tinnitus CAN be managed…
Reassuringly, half of all patients notice a decrease in their symptoms over time, often to the point where it’s no longer a problem.
Treatments available to you:
(We must stress that not all treatments will be suitable for you, so, to be on the safe side, you should always check in with your doctor or audiologist for personal care)
1. Distraction. Yes. You did hear us right.
Listening to soft music, nature sounds, or letting a fan hum in the background can create enough of a distraction to obscure the annoyance of Tinnitus.
2. A sound generator works in a similar way.
It is a small wearable device that resembles the outer case of a hearing aid. But instead of making it easier to hear, the sound generator plays white noise that gently masks the tinnitus sounds.
3. Biofeedback techniques are very popular with Tinnitus sufferers.
Biofeedback is a type of relaxation that is achieved through a series of exercises.
Often when a patient can relax certain muscles and control various areas of the body, the tinnitus becomes less noticeable and it creates a serene state of calmness.
PLEASE BE AWARE: If anxiety is an issue, controlling it is very essential. Anxiety and tinnitus can be described as a vicious circle. Anxiety can cause tinnitus, but having tinnitus can also increase anxiety. Therefore, it is important to avoid situations that can increase anxiety levels and rest as much as possible.
For some people it can make a huge difference, but for others it doesn’t have any effect. Note that no medication is available that entirely cures tinnitus, but some may help to take the edge off.
PLEASE BE AWARE: Certain medications can in fact cause tinnitus, or they increase the volume for those who had tinnitus prior to the medication. Patients should check with their doctor to find out if their medication could possibly be causing their tinnitus. If tinnitus is a common side effect of the medication, discontinuing it and trying alternatives may very well cause the tinnitus to disappear.
The Science bit behind Tinnitus (if you’re interested)
Before going any further, it is critical to understand one important fact – tinnitus is neither an illness nor a life-threatening condition.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t cause deafness, and it very rarely requires any medical treatment. So if you are worried about tinnitus, then take a deep breath now and relax!
Instead, tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment and its causes may vary. The most common cause is exposure to loud noises. Music at high decibels or an extremely noisy work environment on a regular basis can certainly damage the delicate ear mechanisms.
Closely related to loud noises, hearing loss is another cause of tinnitus. Other reasons can be as simple as an ear canal blockage due to earwax or medication and drug usage.
More complicated possibilities can include head injuries, neurological conditions, and anxiety.
Further aggravation, such as spikes in volume, can often occur with a large or regular consumption of caffeine or nicotine, as these drugs affect the fine nerves within the ear.
The most common form of Tinnitus, subjective tinnitus generates a sound that is only heard by the person experiencing tinnitus.
It stems from problems that occur in the outer, middle, or inner ear. Often there is a communication problem between the ears and brain. When the brain misinterprets sound signals, the result comes in the form of ringing and buzzing sounds.
Not only does the person with objective tinnitus hear ringing or other sounds, but doctors can also detect the noise. Muscle contractions, a middle ear bone condition, or a blood vessel condition within the ears are usually responsible for this type of tinnitus. It is quite rare in comparison to subjective tinnitus and often proves to be more difficult to control.
So, what should you do now?
Whether you think you’re on the verge, or are already suffering with Tinnitus, our advice is simple: You need to get it checked out to avoid further damage.
You can book your hearing evaluation with one of our friendly Audiologists by clicking here, or you can call us on 877-358-6130
An Abbeville, Louisiana native, Dr. Thom realized her love for speech, language, and hearing while taking a speech pathology class her junior year at LSU. After completing a bachelor of arts in communications disorders, that love persisted, and Dr. Thom graduated in 2011 with a clinical doctorate in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. Dr. Thom continues to make sounds and language more accessible to her patients and likes to learn about their unique hearing and communication needs. An active member of the Louisiana Academy of Audiology, she has been serving as a board member for two years, and was the 2016-17 President of LAA.