If you can hear noises even when there is no external sound, you may be suffering from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a relatively common condition, but most people don’t really know what it is and why it occurs.
What exactly is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition, which causes you to hear noises in your ears when there is no external source. You may find that you can hear a sound even when it’s silent in the room. Tinnitus tends to be a temporary problem, which occurs when you have been exposed to loud noises. You may find that your ears ring when you’ve been to a concert, or you’ve been to a club, for example. In this case, the symptoms of tinnitus are usually short-lived. You’ll often find that you’ll hear noises when you get into bed, and they have disappeared by the time you get up. In some cases, the signs of tinnitus are more persistent, and some people find it virtually impossible to escape internal noises. If this is the case, it’s wise to see an audiologist, as there are treatments available for tinnitus.
What kinds of noises can you hear when you have tinnitus?
Most people experience a ringing sound in their ears, but there are lots of other sounds that may be heard, including buzzing, whistling, humming, whooshing and hissing noises. It’s very common to hear ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears if you’ve been listening to loud music or you’ve been to a gig or a sports stadium, for example, and this is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you have symptoms on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your audiologist.
What causes tinnitus?
It’s often difficult to pinpoint a single cause of tinnitus. Temporary bouts are often associated with exposure to loud noise, and persistent symptoms may occur as a result of prolonged or repeated exposure to excessive noise. If you have a job that involves working with noisy machinery, for example, you may find that you have a higher risk of developing tinnitus. Other possible causes include hearing loss, ear infections, severe stress and anxiety, a buildup of earwax and head injuries. If you see an audiologist, they will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform examinations and tests to try and determine a cause.
Can tinnitus be treated?
Yes. There are various treatment options available for tinnitus, including sound machines, tinnitus retraining therapy and in cases where hearing loss is involved, hearing aids. If there is an underlying cause, for example, an ear infection, treating the infection may alleviate symptoms of tinnitus. Your audiologist will discuss potential treatment options with you, and explain what they entail and how they could benefit you.
If you’re worried about tinnitus, or you’ve noticed that you’ve started to experience symptoms on a more regular basis, don’t hesitate to contact your audiologist. The sooner tinnitus is treated, the better.