What is that ringing? Do I have tinnitus?
What is Tinnitus?
The Australian Tinnitus Association (NSW) defines tinnitus as “a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system; it is a symptom, not a disease in itself.”
Some people experience a ringing or buzzing in the ears, whilst others experience cricket or cicada sounds, high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tinging or whistling sound, ticking, clicking, roaring, tunes, songs, beeping, and sizzling.
Tinnitus can be intermittent or continuous, it can be perceived to be heard in one or both ears, or simply “ïn the head”. For some people, the intensity can be changed by shoulder, head, tongue, jaw, or eye movements, or periods of high stress and anxiety.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of factors, however in most cases, an individual will usually have or experience some degree of hearing loss associated with tinnitus.
Noise exposure is a big contributing factor. I’m sure we have all experienced ringing in our ears at one point in time from noise exposure whether it be from a loud explosions or gun fire, to chain saws and power tools, to loud rock concerts.
Tinnitus can also be associated with a number of other factors, such as ear infections, wax build up in the ear canal or on the tympanic membrane, hearing loss, Meniere’s Disease, otosclerosis, acoustic neuroma, various medications, some stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol, stress and/or anxiety, and head injuries.
I have tinnitus – What should I do?
You should see your doctor to discuss possible causes. It is also strongly recommended that you have your hearing tested (you generally don’t need a referral to have a hearing test done). Some people may require a referral to an ENT (Ear Nose & Throat) specialist. There may be a treatable medical cause.
How can the impact of my tinnitus be reduced?
Protect your hearing
Wear hearing protection whenever using power tools or noisy gardening equipment, or attending rock concerts etc.
Often people will experience increased intensity of their tinnitus when they are under increased stress. Try deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques or yoga.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
Consumption of alcohol or caffeine can increase the severity of tinnitus in some individuals.
Good quality and properly fitted hearing aids reduce and even eliminate most tinnitus associated with hearing losses. Hearing aids take away the strain of listening and distract from the tinnitus by bringing you more environmental sounds from the outside world. Some hearing aids even have optional tinnitus maskers inbuilt into the device which can be activate when required.
Both Siemens and Phonak hearing aids have inbuilt tinnitus maskers that have the capability to be programmed either within the normal listening program of the hearing aid or as a separate tinnitus program.
Contact Whitsunday Hearing today for a free trial 07 4946 4906
Therapeutic Noise Generator
A device which looks like a hearing aid and recommended for people with no hearing loss. It produces a blend of external sounds which stimulate most fibres of the hearing nerve helping to deviate attention away from the tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Aims to reduce and ultimately eliminate tinnitus perception. It combines auditory therapy – hearing aids and/or therapeutic noise generators – to provide the brain with maximum environmental sounds to reduce tinnitus perception. Directive counselling helps to change negative beliefs, distract from tinnitus and reduce stress
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Offered by clinical psychologists CBT is threefold: changing the way a person perceives tinnitus; teaching ways to focus attention away from tinnitus and achieving control over stress.
For more information on tinnitus, visit the Tinnitus Association Victoria