(ti’ ni tus/ or /ti nye’ tus/)
Tinnitus is a common, yet irritating and often debilitating symptom of an underlying condition. Individuals complain of perceived sounds in one or both ears. It often accompanies hearing loss, but the loss may be undetected due to overshadowing of the sounds. While it is often referred to as “ringing”, some people hear it as buzzing, chirping, hissing, or thumping (pulsatile).
For some individuals, the sounds are rare or barely noticeable. For others, the sounds can be agonizing. They may impact concentration or disturb sleep. The good news is the condition can be treated, although there is no cure. Watch the following video from “The Doctors” about a possible treatment option.
What Causes Tinnitus?
The causes vary, but it is often caused by exposure to hazardous noise levels. Working in noisy surroundings for many years without using special protective equipment increases the risk of developing tinnitus as well as hearing loss. See the photo below for an explanation of how it develops.
Microscopic hairs form a lining on the surface of each auditory hair cell in the cochlea. If the hairs are damaged, they may move randomly, sending electrical pulse to your brain as noise, creating the tinnitus sounds. It can also be caused by turbulence in the carotid artery or jugular vein and temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) problems.
Leisure activities, such as extensive listening to music with headphones (or earbuds) to mowing lawns or playing musical instruments may trigger tinnitus. Concert musicians typically suffer from tinnitus after having spent years in front of gigantic loudspeakers without hearing protection.
Concert audiences exposed to high noise levels are in the danger zone, as well. It is always advisable to use ear plugs when attending concerts or taking part in other noisy activities. Also, people who use firearms are at high risk. Anybody can suffer from ringing in his/her ears after exposure to excessive or loud noise. When this happens it is advisable to seek quieter surroundings or wear hearing protection.
Use Hearing Protection
Earplugs or other hearing protection often prevents tinnitus that otherwise would be caused by excessive noise. You should always wear hearing protection when subjected to loud noise, even if you do not find the noise uncomfortable. Hearing loss at higher frequencies is often painless, and the most common result is tinnitus.
Other causes of tinnitus may include (not an exclusive list):
- Impacted ear wax
- Middle ear infections
- Menièrè’s Disease
- High intake of caffeine
- Chemotherapy treatments
- Chemicals and noise together
- Blows to the head/Head trauma
- Large doses of certain drugs such as aspirin
- Perilymp fistula (a hole in the inner ear, allowing fluid to escape)
- Certain types of peripheral and central auditory system tumors
- Dysfunction of the joint connecting the jaw to the bone under the ear
Tinnitus does not have to be debilitating or overwhelming. Seek relief! Contact Grace Hearing and Language Services to inquire about treatment and read more from the American Tinnitus Association https://www.ata.org/