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Understanding Tinnitus

Woman with Tinnitus

There are various conditions out there that an audiologist will help treat. One of the most common is tinnitus. Some of you may have heard of this before, but it’s a problem that regularly throws up a lot of questions. Many people misunderstand it, so we’ve put together a short guide that will help you understand tinnitus in more detail.

What is tinnitus?

The best place to begin is with a definition of tinnitus. Primarily, it’s a condition that causes you to experience a ringing sensation in your ears. This is the most common symptom, but some people will describe it as more or a buzzing or clicking sound - it depends on the individual. You can get it in just one ear or both; it varies from patient to patient.

What causes tinnitus?

When you visit an audiologist complaining of tinnitus, they’ll ask a variety of questions to help get to the bottom of the cause. Below, you’ll see the most common causes:

  • Hearing loss: age-related hearing loss can cause tinnitus, which is why many audiologists see tinnitus as a possible symptom of hearing loss.
  • Loud noises: if you’re exposed to dangerously loud noises, this can cause problems for your eardrum or the sensory hairs in your inner ear. As a result, you get tinnitus - this is probably one of the most common causes of temporary tinnitus in most individuals.
  • Ear infections: an ear infection can easily cause tinnitus symptoms thanks to a build-up of fluid or issues with your ear canal.
  • Impacted earwax: when your ears generate too much earwax, and it becomes hardened and impacted, then this can cause a ringing or whistling sound in your ears.
  • Objects touching the eardrum: if you insert foreign objects into your ear and they come into contact with your eardrum, then this can cause tinnitus symptoms as well.

There are other, rarer, causes as well, such as medication side effects and hormonal changes - but the ones listed above are the most prevalent ones seen in most patients.

How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus treatments vary depending on the patient and what caused your tinnitus. In most cases, your audiologist will try one of these three things; hearing aids, sound machines or tinnitus retraining therapy.

Hearing aids can be used when hearing loss causes tinnitus as they help amplify the sounds around you, meaning you don’t hear the ringing sensation as much as you used to. They are also popular because you can use masking features that cancel out the tinnitus symptoms by using white noise - these hearing aids are used even when hearing loss isn’t present.

Sound machines work similarly but are more popular for temporary tinnitus as you use them until the symptoms fade away. Again, they use white noise to mask the ringing sensation, but the difference is that these machines are almost like small speakers rather than hearing aids.

Lastly, tinnitus retraining therapy helps train your brain to get used to your symptoms. Eventually, you no longer notice the ringing sound as an issue, which helps you live your life free from stress and annoyance!

To sum things up; tinnitus is a condition that’s caused by many different things and can be very frustrating to live with. Permanent tinnitus can’t be cured, but it can be managed using the treatments mentioned above. If you suffer from tinnitus and need help, then book an appointment with your local audiologist today.


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