Find out more about Tinnitus, its most common symptoms, and how you can cope with it
Tinnitus is an internal signal perceived by the hearer, without any external sound stimulus and is characterized by a buzzing, ringing, or even swooshing sound. Some patients also experience a feeling of “fullness” in the head. The noises caused by Tinnitus can be constant or appear sporadically. It can also seem worse when there are no background noises – which means that the symptoms are usually more severe at night.
In 80% of cases, Tinnitus exists together with hearing loss – from very mild to severe. The amount of annoyance varies from patient to patient. In severe cases, the noise is so incessant that it affects patients’ every life and work activities.
Some of NB Hearing’s audiologists have attended courses in Denmark geared to equip us to assist patients with tinnitus and hyperacusis. Management of Tinnitus and hyperacusis is through diagnosis, information-sharing, counselling, limited cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques and the precise fitting of instruments. These instruments may be used for sound stimulus AND hearing loss combined, or for Tinnitus alone (via devices with exclusive sound stimuli). These devices will help to retrain the brain to reduce the amount of annoyance caused by Tinnitus.
Common symptoms indicating Tinnitus:
Besides the constant ringing or buzzing in the ears, Tinnitus can also have a large impact on your quality of life. Other symptoms related to Tinnitus differ from one patient to the next, but some patients suffering from Tinnitus may also experience:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Lack of Concentration
- Struggling to remember things
Common symptoms indicating Tinnitus:
Tinnitus can be a symptom of an underlying hearing condition or illness. Amongst others, these conditions can include Noise Induced Hearing Loss (or other types of hearing loss), blockage of the ear canal, head or neck injuries, and even high blood pressure. In cases where the symptoms of Tinnitus are a result of an underlying condition, it may be reduced by treating the underlying cause.
The exact cause of Tinnitus may never be found, but there are a number of conditions or activities that may cause or worsen it.
Some known causes of Tinnitus:
- Hearing loss related to ageing
- Continuous exposure to noise
- Earwax blockage causing irritation
- Changing of the ear bone
- Certain medications
Regardless of the cause, the presence of Tinnitus may lead to distress in the forms of anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression. Good diagnosis and management through accurate information, relaxation, behavioural techniques and sound generators can lead many patients to reduce the correlates of tinnitus distress and live more productive, relaxed lives. Tinnitus research is an active field and our practitioners read extensively and attend coursework to further enable our ability to support you.
On diagnosing Tinnitus:
If you are unsure what to expect when visiting the audiologist to diagnose your Tinnitus, here is an indication of the various tests you might be subjected to, depending on the severity of your condition:
- Hearing test – a hearing test will be conducted on each ear. Doing this will enable your audiologist to identify causes for your Tinnitus and to diagnose its severity.
- Movement test – an audiologist may ask you to move your eyes, legs, neck, or arms, and to clench your jaw. If any of these movements trigger your Tinnitus, it can be an indication of an underlying condition.
- Imaging test – if required, your audiologist may suggest that you undergo imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans. This is dependent on the severity of your Tinnitus.
Getting relief from Tinnitus:
Although Tinnitus is not curable, getting relief from it is possible and patients can learn to cope with the symptoms. Treatments and therapy differ from patient to patient, depending on the reason for their Tinnitus. Some known therapies that have been found to be effective in providing relief from the constant ringing or buzzing in the ears include acoustic stimulation, behavioural therapy, medication, physiotherapy, brain stimulation (either magnetic or electrical).
A lot of sufferers seek alternative therapies to find relief from their symptoms. Certain lifestyle changes can also help patients suffering from Tinnitus to cope with the constant ringing or buzzing in their ears. These include:
- Try exercising daily
- Reading daily
- Dietary changes – focus on following a healthy, nutritious diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Drinking enough water
- Stop smoking
- Try some meditation or relaxation exercises that can help you relax
Sufferers of Tinnitus often feel helpless and frustrated. Whether you think that the ringing in your ears is a symptom of a greater problem, or an isolated issue that may be linked to Tinnitus, it is best to start with a visit to an audiologist. A known entity is always easier to manage than the unknown.
To make an appointment, or to talk to one of our audiologists about your symptoms and requirements, feel free to send us an email or to give us a call. At NB Hearing, we think that hearing is important, and we want to be of service to help you find solutions to manage your Tinnitus.