What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is usually described as ringing in the ears. Take note that it is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying problem such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn’t a sign of something serious. The most common form is a steady, high-pitched ringing. This can be annoying, but it does not usually indicate a serious condition. Tinnitus can improve with treatment from therapy and helpful hearing devices.
Tinnitus is a non-auditory, internal sound that can be intermittent or continuous, in one or both ears, and either low or high-pitched.
The varying sounds have been described as whistling, chirping, clicking, screeching, hissing, static, roaring, buzzing, pulsing, whooshing or musical.
The volume of the sound can fluctuate. It is often most noticeable at night or during quiet periods.
In some cases, the sound can be so loud it can interfere with your ability to concentrate or hear external sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go.
There are two kinds of tinnitus.
- Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus only you can hear. This is the most common type of tinnitus. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. It can also be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or the part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways).
- Objective tinnitus is tinnitus your doctor can hear when he or she does an examination. This rare type of tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition or muscle contractions.
Currently, there is no known tinnitus cure. However, according to the American Tinnitus Association, there are recommended ways to get tinnitus relief, including counseling and sound therapy.
Hearing aids are an effective part of a sound therapy protocol, as specific hearing aids today utilise a customisable and comforting sound stimulus that soothes the annoying noises associated with tinnitus.
Tinnitus usually produces a shrill, high pitched, unpleasant tone, while the hearing aid’s sound stimulus is designed to be soothing — to counterbalance and help take your mind off your tinnitus.
Tinnitus masking or noise suppression devices are common treatment options for tinnitus sufferers. This type of device is worn in the ear like a hearing aid and produces either a constant signal or tonal beats to compete with the sounds you’re hearing. The hearing care professional will use the pitch matching and loudness matching tests to set the signal at a level and pitch similar to the tinnitus you are perceiving.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) uses cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with a masking device to help you learn to ignore the background ringing noise in your ears.
You can also use a free-standing white noise generating machine. Tinnitus appears worse when you’re in a quiet space, so being able to bathe a room in background sound might be all you need to help you ignore the ringing in your ears.
Leave it to the professionals
Tinnitus can be extremely frustrating and can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure about your next steps. Remember that you are not alone – tinnitus is common in all ages.
Contact our experienced and qualified Audiologist Karen on 1300 060 455 and speak to her about tinnitus so you can get relief and regain your quality of life.