Do you hear a ringing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or all the time? Is this sound extremely irritating? If you answered yes to these questions, you may have tinnitus. For those of you who don’t know, tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. While it is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can manifest many different perceptions of sound, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, and clicking.
Here are some interesting facts about tinnitus you may not know:
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 15% of the general public (over 50 million Americans) experience some form of tinnitus. Approximately 20 million people struggle with chronic tinnitus, while 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases.
- Most people who have tinnitus also have some kind of hearing loss.
- Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears, or it can occur in the head.
- The word “tinnitus” comes from the Latin word for “ringing.”
- In general, there are two known types of tinnitus: subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus.
- Subjective Tinnitus: This is the most common variety, where only the person who has tinnitus hears it.
- Objective Tinnitus: This is when the head or ear noises are audible to other people, as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems. Objective tinnitus is very rare and represents less than 1% of total tinnitus cases.
- Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Continued exposure can make the tinnitus and hearing loss get worse.
- There are several groups of people at higher risk for suffering tinnitus symptoms: people who work around noisy machinery, musicians and music lovers, hunters and gun enthusiasts, senior citizens, active and retired military, and cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
- Stress and anxiety are common contributors to tinnitus.
- More than 200 medicines, including aspirin, can cause tinnitus.
- Allergies, tumors, problems in the heart and blood vessels, jaws, and neck can cause tinnitus.
- There is no one single cure for tinnitus, but there are plenty of ways to manage it including earwax removal, hearing aids, and tinnitus therapy treatment.
- Tinnitus can be caused by earwax buildup, and properly removing excess earwax can help relieve tinnitus symptoms painlessly.
- Hearing aids can offer a dual benefit of enhancing hearing and masking or covering up the tinnitus, and the majority of patients with tinnitus receive partial or complete relief from their tinnitus with the use of hearing aids.
- There are three types of therapy to treat tinnitus: cognitive behavioural therapy, sound enrichment therapy, and tinnitus retraining therapy.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This is a tinnitus treatment that addresses the affected individual’s reaction to tinnitus. It aims not to eliminate auditory perception as sound but to reduce or correct one’s negative response to tinnitus.
- Sound Enrichment Therapy: This treatment uses repetitive natural sounds such as waves, wind and rain to help mask tinnitus sounds. As mentioned above, hearing aids can also help with this type of therapy.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) – This is a form of habituation therapy designed to help people when no external sound is present. An alternative to TRT is tinnitus masking, the use of noise, music or other environmental sounds to obscure or mask the tinnitus.
- Extensive research is being done to understand the cause and develop a cure for tinnitus.
If you or a loved one experience symptoms of tinnitus, contact us at Hearing Solutions, Inc and make an appointment with one of our experienced hearing specialists to discuss your tinnitus treatment options. While we can’t cure the tinnitus, we can help you effectively manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life so that you can function better both at work and at home.