What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term given for a broad range of noises heard in the head or ears. It is often referred to as a "ringing", "hissing", or "buzzing" sounds on occasions it can even be pulsating.
Most people will experience tinnitus in one form or another at some time in their live even if only for a few moments once in awhile. Most people have experienced a little "ringing" in the ears for a short time after being exposed to loud noises. Working in loud surroundings or going to a concert can cause temporary tinnitus which generally disappears by the next day.
However there are times when tinnitus is more persistent and lasts much long or even permanently. Tinnitus is often associated with a degree of hearing loss although this is not always the case.
So how does tinnitus occur?
Despite much research, tinnitus is not completely understood as yet, however there are a number of triggers that we know can initiate the onset of tinnitus, some of these are :
- middle and inner infections
- exposure to loud noises
- jaw problems (TMJ)
- some medicines
- other substances
- stress and anxiety
Tinnitus in itself is not an illness as such but often representative of another condition(s). It is because of this cause and effect relationship that one should be wary if tinnitus starts up out of the "blue" so to speak without any specific event that could account for it. Whilst tinnitus is relatively common, it is estimated that 10% - 20% of the population have some degree of tinnitus it should be noted that unilateral(one sided) tinnitus is generally regarded as requiring further investigation.
So, a full hearing assessment is a good place to start in managing your tinnitus.
What can be done about Tinnitus?
Whilst there are no cures as such just yet there are a variety options available for a Tinnitus sufferer, these include:
- Consult your Doctor to see whether you need to have your Tinnitus investigated medically.
- Evaluate your lifestyle. We know that there are a number of lifestyle choices that can increase the frequency or intensity of Tinnitus. For some individuals it can be drinking to much coffee of tea, excessive chocolate, nicotine etc.
- Reduce stress in your life where ever possible. Learn relaxation techniques like Yoga, or Tai Chi or meditation classes. Sounds a little "way out"? However it does works, I know because I have endured tinnitus in both ears for 15+ years.
- If you have trouble sleeping because of your Tinnitus then introduce some soothing sounds. There are numerous CD's with sounds of the ocean or the forest, etc. If this disturbs your partner you can have a pillow speaker(very flat) or an ear piece connected to your CD player.
- If you have a hearing loss along with your Tinnitus a hearing device may help. It allows you to hear other sounds(natural) and will distract you form your Tinnitus whilst helping you to communicate more effectively with family and friends.
If you would like to learn more about Tinnitus then click on the link to Tinnitus Association of Victoria.