Tinnitus is the perception of ringing in the ears when there is no sound actually present.
Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes: neurological damage (multiple sclerosis), ear infections, oxidative stress, foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain, wax build-up and exposure to loud sounds.
Tinnitus may be an accompaniment of Sensorineural Hearing Loss or Congenital Hearing Loss, or it may be observed as a side effect of certain medications (ototoxic tinnitus). However, the most common cause is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. Temporary tinnitus can occur when we are exposed to non permanent noise or suffer from ear infections. Eventually fluid in the ear passes and the ringing stops. Wax blockages in the outer canal also cause tinnitus.
What happens to you?
- You hear ringing or strange sounds in your ears. Tinnitus has been described as high pitched and screechy, low pitched and pulsing, locusts and cicadas
- Tinnitus is usually loudest when it is quiet, as you can focus on the fact that it is there
- Tinnitus can become so annoying that it affects sleep and is distracting
- Tinnitus should always be checked by a doctor
How to cope with Tinnitus
- Reduce stress as stress is often associated with tinnitus
- Mask the tinnitus out. This can be achieved with a hearing aid that has a Tinnitus masker built in to the hearing aid
- White noise, also present in regular noise, can help to alleviate tinnitus. A television, or radio will mask the tinnitus as the brain will focus on something other than the ringing sensation
- Reduce stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. Stimulants have been known to increase tinnitus in some people