Ever suffered from a ringing sound in your ears? That’s what is known as Tinnitus, and can have huge implications for some people.
The majority of us will have experienced slight Tinnitus at some point in our lives, whether it be a buzzing, humming, hissing, grinding or whistling sound. However, for a lot of people this comes and goes, and usually doesn’t happen too often. There are people out there though, that suffer from the condition day in day out, and can have a lot more serious side effects than what you might imagine.
Severe Tinnitus can become extremely hard for an individual to cope with, and soon starts affecting the way they go about their day-to-day lives. In some people, Tinnitus will be a regular occurrence that happens in short or lenghty bursts, but then calms down again. In others, the ringing sound can be constantly present.
It is a condition that is usually present in people over 40, and its most common forms are Pulsatile Tinnitus and Nonpulsatile Tinnitus. The difference between the two is that Pulsatile Tinnitus is a rhythmical noise, which usually keeps in beat with the heart. It happens due to a change in blood flow, or changes in the ear canal. However, Nonpulsatile Tinnitus is caused by nerve problems, directly affecting the hearing and resulting in sounds being heard in just one or both ears. Other less common forms of Tinnitus include musical hallucinations, in which the recurring noise is actually a piece of music playing on repeat, and a condition where people report hearing a series of everyday noises which they believe are being caused by their surroundings, such as road traffic noise etc.
Although changes in blood flow, the ear canal and nerve problems have all been identified as common causes of Tinnitus, it is always difficult to determine an exact cause for each individual case. Tinnitus is heavily linked to hearing loss, which is why it is important for sufferers to take a hearing test. Age-related hearing loss, inner ear damage, a build-up of ear wax, ear infections and other hearing related problems can all contribute towards Tinnitus.
Along with ear problems in general, Tinnitus can also be caused by being constantly exposed to loud noises, for example operating noisy machinery at work. This can be relatable to those who may have subjected themselves to loud noises from music speakers at a concert or similar for a long period of time, and then found that they experience a ringing in their ears shortly after. This explains why constant exposure to these kind of sounds can have long-term effect on the hearing.
Having said that, there is no real way to prevent Tinnitus, as it can simply come with age or hearing loss. Treatment wise, there isn’t anything that has been proven to cure the condition and stop the Tinnitus all together, but there are ways to help the sufferer to best cope with it. Depending on what has caused the Tinnitus, there’s a host of options available to help it become more bareable.
Tinnitus can be reduced using ear irrigation, if the main cause is a build-up of ear wax. The ear wax will be professionally and safely removed, and hopefully calm the condition down. Another way to treat Tinnitus or improve the situation is by having a hearing assessment. If the Tinnitus is proven to be linked to hearing loss, a hearing aid could help to reduce the strain on the hearing and by amplifying other noises, can block out the ringing sounds.
Some Tinnitus sufferers opt for sound therapy, in which listening to soothing sounds can help override the ringing of the Tinnitus. Counselling is also another option which can help the sufferer understand and cope with their condition. This is usually carried out by trained professionals who can use a variety of different techniques.
Although there are no real treatments to clear an individual of Tinnitus completely, it’s not a harmful condition that should be of much concern, and usually does improve with time.