What is Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears?
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the head when no external sound is present. Tinnitus is frequently described as ringing in the ears. The head noises have also been perceived as hissing, roaring, pulsing, whooshing, chirping, whistling, or clicking sounds. The prevalence of tinnitus tends to increase with age and peaks among adults in their 60s. It is a very common problem and affects 10-15% of the general population. Approximately 0.5-1% of adults report tinnitus as a debilitating problem associated with mood disturbances, sleep difficulties, and cognitive dysfunction. Although tinnitus is usually not medically measureable and there is no cure, there are plenty of hearing health solutions that make life a little bit easier for those who suffer from ringing in the ears.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Although we do not understand the exact mechanisms of tinnitus, we can safely say tinnitus is most commonly triggered by loud noise that results in hearing loss and ringing in the ears. Many factors are highly related to tinnitus, such as age-related hearing loss, ear diseases, medication, head and neck injuries, or traumatic emotional events. Tinnitus is often associated with some common ear diseases, such as otosclerosis, ear infections, and Meniere’s disease. Head and neck injuries, whiplash, sinus, and TMJ problem, can also trigger tinnitus. In addition, more than 200 medications list tinnitus as a possible side effect.
What Treatments are Available for Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be a very frightening condition, especially if it develops rapidly without warning. However, it is important to stay calm and not panic. Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious, ongoing medical condition. If you are relaxed, you can cope with the ringing more effectively.
See an audiologist to explore a possible assessment and management plan. A hearing test should be the first step in dealing with tinnitus, since up to 80%of tinnitus cases occur with hearing loss. An audiologist can help assess the health and function of your middle ear, inner ear, and auditory pathway. Some audiologists have additional, intensive training, such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, to help tinnitus sufferers manage their symptoms.
See your doctor and ear specialist such as an ENT (ear, nose and throat) to rule out any medical conditions requiring treatment that may be causing the ringing. Your family physician or health care provider will conduct a medical evaluation to identify any active and treatable medical conditions you may have that may be related to the tinnitus.
To find out more about how Okanagan Hearing Centre helps someone manage their tinnitus, go to the Tinnitus Management page.
To find out how much tinnitus is impacting your life, complete this tinnitus handicap inventory and bring it with you to your appointment with our audiologist.