Sound Advice

What is Tinnitus?

Woman with Hand to Ear

Tinnitus describes the awareness of a ringing, buzzing or whirring sound in the inner ears that doesn’t come from an external source. The pitch varies from high to low and it can even be in the form of clicks. Those who suffer from tinnitus often talk about it being an annoyance, which is why you want to see a hearing care professional who can diagnose it for you properly.

How common is tinnitus?

The mildest forms of tinnitus are extremely common. Sometimes, exposure to loud noise can cause temporary tinnitus at a low level, and 10 percent of people experience it frequently enough to notice with five percent of people dealing with life-altering effects. For the most part, it’s a condition that doesn’t last very long, but for those it lasts for, it can be debilitating.

What are the types of tinnitus?

Tinnitus isn’t just one condition; it has two types:

  • Subjective: This type of tinnitus can only be heard by the person that it affects and is the most common form of tinnitus. It’s a soft, but constant, tone in the inner ears that can annoy those who hear it.
  • Objective: This type is very uncommon and can also be heard by the person who is examining the ears. Increased blood flow to the ears and abnormalities in blood vessels can cause this form of tinnitus.

What’s it like?

Individuals who experience tinnitus can hear a variety of different sounds. High-pitched sounds that are shrill, drilling noises, low tones, pulsing and even buzzing are all reported as the noise that is heard.

What’s the cause?

To the person suffering, it doesn’t matter what the cause of tinnitus is, just how to get rid of it. It causes a change in the transmission of the signals that travel from the ear to the brain. This is called the auditory cortex and this is what doesn’t receive the right signals. Here are some of the things that are involved where tinnitus is concerned:

  • Hearing loss: Usually, tinnitus is present when hearing loss is the case. However, one in three people who suffer from tinnitus have no hearing issues.
  • Loud noise: Loud noise exposure is a very big factor when it comes to developing tinnitus. Repeated exposure over a period of time is a risk to hearing, and so a low buzzing noise would be common here.
  • Head injury: A trauma to the head or ears can trigger tinnitus.
  • Infection: Ear infections are nasty to deal with, and they can cause swelling that trigger tinnitus and make it far more likely to develop.
  • Medication: There are some side effects of medication that detail tinnitus as a symptom. Around 200 prescription and non-prescription drugs have tinnitus as a side effect.

Tinnitus is not all that easy to deal with, especially if it starts to affect your quality of life. The best thing that you can do is to book an appointment with a hearing professional for a diagnosis and treatment.