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What is Tinnitus and Why Does It Happen?

 

I'm Denise Kopecki with Texan Renew Hearing Center. Today we're going to talk about what is tinnitus and why does it happen and affect some people. 

Tinnitus is found to affect right at around 50 million people. It's usually occurring in people after the age of 50 years, but it can actually affect children and adolescence at any age.

Some of the common causes are being around excessive loud noises, having head and neck injuries, and ear infections. It can occasionally indicate a serious underlying medical condition as well. Though there's no cure for tinnitus, there are ways of managing it.

Most people who experience chronic tinnitus adjust to the constant ringing in their ears over time, but one in five can find that it's so disturbing or debilitating that it affects their day to day life. 

For some, it actually leads to insomnia, difficulty with concentration, poor work or school performance, irritability, anxiety, and even depression. 

So while we're talking about tinnitus, let's dig into what it actually is. Tinnitus is a non-auditory internal sound that can be intermittent or continuous, in one or both ears, in either a low or high pitched frequency. The varying sounds have been described by people as whistling, crickets chirping, clicking, screeching, static, or even music. It can be different for every different person who is being affected by it. How loud it can be can fluctuate depending on your environment. Depending on if there's any other background noise going on can sometimes determine how loud it is. Some people will say that when it's quiet they actually hear it louder than whenever there's background noise going on. 

What are some ways of treating it? Some things can be as simple as taking prompt care if we have an ear infection or discontinuing any medications that you may have noticed triggering it. Their have been links of tinnitus and TMJ, so taking care of that would be a good first step. There is sound therapy available that uses an external noise to mask or stimulate those auditory tones that are being in distress. Choice of sound therapy should be pleasant to the individual. Some people find more relief with music, others may find more relief with white noise or static. 

Another option available is tinnitus retraining therapy. This involves retraining the auditory system to be able to accept the abnormal sounds natural, rather than being disruptive. It involves help from a trained professional and wearing a device that emits low level white noises. It also includes on-going counseling sessions to help with coping and retraining with the tinnitus. 

Some of the ways to prevent getting tinnitus and possibly hearing loss:

  • Avoiding exposure to loud noises
  • Use hearing protection such as ear mufflers or ear plugs in noisy environments
  • Keep your personal hearing devices such as headphones to a moderate to low level
  • Exercise and eating healthy
  • Getting good sleep
  • Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol
  • Recreational and social activities
  • Managing stress levels

All of these can help you achieve maximum wellness as well as helping to avoid tinnitus.

Unfortunately once the damage is done, there's not a way to reverse the tinnitus. 

 

Again, I'm Denise Kopecki with Texan Renew Hearing Center. If you have any questions about your tinnitus, reach out to your hearing health care provider and schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation.