Current research indicates that one in every 5 Australians suffers from "ringing in the ear" a condition better known as tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a phantom sound generated in the auditory pathway and is surprisingly common. It is estimated that around the world 10-15% of adults suffer from chronic tinnitus, so you are not alone and even well-known personalities such as Barbara Streisand and Bob Dylan suffer from this condition.
Research further suggests that approximately 30 percent of all adults experience tinnitus at some point, with 15 percent reporting persistent symptoms. Each sufferer will have their own unique experience. (i.e., you may experience it every day while some people may only experience it on some occasions.)
Tinnitus can take various forms from hissing or ringing to a pulsing or roaring sound in one or both ears. For many people, the symptoms are experienced more commonly quiet situations, and many people report that they feel it's coming from inside their head. Tinnitus in its self is NOT a disease instead it’s usually a symptom of a sensory or auditory fault.
Tinnitus can be triggered by a range of factors such as exposure to loud noise or music, age-related hearing loss to or a simple earwax blockage. And is broken down into separate categories and different causes are recognised for each type.
Subjective tinnitus – The sound is only discernible by the individual and is generally a result of the exposure to loud noises over time but can also be the result of head injury, disease, ear infection or medication.
Objective tinnitus – the tinnitus sound is discernible to a professional using a particular listening device and is generally the result of irregularities in the cardiovascular system or problems with blood flow. While rare it should be ruled out by your Doctor or Hearing Services Specialist.
There is currently no known cure, but its symptoms can be controlled with some simple lifestyle changes, the help of technology and the support of your hearing services provider.
Identify triggers - Identify when you are more aware of the tinnitus so that you can more easily avoid contributing factors.
Avoid silence – Distract the brain from focusing on tinnitus sounds by ensuring that your ears busy with background noise like the TV or radio.
Stay calm – Try meditation, yoga or massage for relaxation and avoid stress wherever possible, for stress has been known to make the condition worse or even be the cause on occasions.
Check medications – Some medications come with side effects and medications like antidepressants, antibiotics and arthritis medications have been known to make tinnitus worse. Please consult your doctor or if you’re experiencing symptoms.
Limit caffeine – Tea, coffee, cola or energy drinks that contain caffeine can temporarily make symptoms worse, so eliminate it from your diet where possible.
Try technology – Hearing aids now contain tinnitus maskers and are an excellent option for many sufferers and your Audiologist is the best person to advise you.
Sound therapy – Sound therapy has also been noted to help diminish discomfort. Sound therapy helps reduce anxiety by creating a relaxing atmosphere that encourages sleep.
So, what’s next?
Do not suffer alone seek help. Book an appointment with a qualified Audiologist for a hearing test, to see if you have a hearing loss or whether there is some other condition that might be causing the tinnitus. The Audiologist will also be able to assist you with devising a plan for managing the symptoms that suits your individual needs.
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