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Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in a person’s ears or head, when no such external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is a symptom of a fault in the (auditory) hearing system, it is not a disease.

The word ‘tinnitus’ is from the Latin for ‘tinkling or ringing like a bell’. It can however vary in the type of noise greatly and can be present as a deeper or higher frequency noise. It can be a ringing, hissing, rushing, whistling, humming, roaring noise to name a few.


Although tinnitus is experienced from time to time by a large proportion of the population, it is believed to be present constantly for approximately 10-15% of the population. Majority of those that experience tinnitus on a full time basis can cope with the sound and carry on with their everyday life unaffected. However for approximately 2% of the population tinnitus has a much greater affect on their lives. Tinnitus can be extremely debilitating, affecting a person’s ability to work or cope with normal life activities. People with tinnitus may also suffer from,extreme distress (this is common), depression, frequent mood swings, depression or anxiety attacks, tension, irritability or frustration, poor concentration, sleep problems.


Causes of Tinnitus

There are numerous causes of tinnitus, some which are not directly related to the ears. The more common causes of tinnitus include but are not limited to:

  • Exposure to loud sounds
  • Extreme stress or trauma
  • Degeneration of the hair cells in the cochlea (inner ear)
  • Ear problems, such as otosclerosis (fixation of the tiny stirrup bone in the middle ear)
  • Meniere’s disease (build up of excess fluid in the inner ear)
  • Some medications. (please consult your doctor prior to making any changes to your medication)

Some of the causes of tinnitus are preventable, such as avoiding exposure to loud sounds or using appropriate hearing protection while being exposed.

Effects of Tinnitus

When tinnitus first appears it is a new sound, an unknown sound. When we hear sounds we subconsciously classify them in three main categories. threatening, neutral, or non-threatening. When you next hear the same sound your mind will automatically react. A good example is a car horn. When we hear a car horn we recognise it as a threatening sound and we become more alert and ready to get out of the way, even if we can not actually see the car.

When your brain first hears tinnitus, it cannot relate it to any previously classified sound and so will classify it as potentially threatening. This places the mind and body in a state of high anxiety. If your brain maintains the perception that tinnitus is threatening, you will become anxious every time you hear your tinnitus. 

When you first start to experience tinnitus it is advisable to see a qualified audiologist, GP, or government approved tinnitus organisation for further advice.It is incorrect that nothing can be done about tinnitus, at the same time beware of tinnitus cures. Many so called `tinnitus cures` have no scientific basis. There is no such thing as a direct tinnitus cure but at the same time treating the underlying problem may result in the tinnitus becoming a problem of the past. Therefore it is advisable to seek professional assistance.



Hearing aids and tinnitus

Programmable well fitted hearing aids can

  • Reduce the perception of tinnitus by improving your hearing
  • Take away the strain of listening
  • Many hearing aids have optional tinnitus masking noises and relaxation sounds that can be turned on and off when needed to help relieve tinnitus

To assess your hearing, tinnitus and whether any of the devices are likely to help with your tinnitus please make an appointment at one of our clinics. We offer a 30-day obligation free trial so we can assess the benefits for you.





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