Tinnitus is a term that is often used to describe something temporary. If you experience a ringing in your ears after a loud noise that starts to recede, then that is, indeed, a form of tinnitus.
However, tinnitus can be a lot longer lasting and a lot more serious, to the point that some people have their quality of life affected, down to their sleep, mental health, and more.
Here, we’re going to look at what you need to know about tinnitus and what you can do about it.
What is tinnitus?
The term tinnitus does not define any particular condition or experience. It simply refers to the experience of hearing a noise that has no explained source, whether it’s in your ears or in your head.
Sometimes it’s described as a ringing bell, a pulsation, or a throbbing. It can present differently for different people, in some cases intermittent, in others much more frequent.
It’s commonly associated with hearing loss, as it is co-morbid with it, but many people experience tinnitus in very different ways.
As such, it’s important to work with a hearing health specialist to start narrowing down the potential causes and most effective treatments in your case.
What are the causes?
There is no one known cause of tinnitus. There are various different potential causes and risk factors. Hearing loss can lead to tinnitus, as can high periods of stress and anxiety.
There are connections between tinnitus and medication, with aspirin, strong antibiotics and blood pressure medications being amongst the common suspects.
Sometimes, treating the root cause, such as switching medications or using a hearing aid to treat hearing loss can also treat tinnitus. However, it’s not always that simple, sometimes the symptoms have to be directly treated, too.
The consequences of not treating it
Tinnitus can have further-reaching implications for your general health than you might think.
People who experience tinnitus tend to be much more likely to experience sleep deprivation as a result. They are also more likely to experience stress, anxiety, depression, and isolation.
A ringing in your ears might not sound like the most serious problem but it can become debilitating if it gets worse and you don’t treat it.
How is it treated?
Sometimes, treating the root cause of tinnitus can help with the condition. However, in many cases, the symptom itself needs to be treated to offer some quality of life. Hearing aids can strengthen other noises, helping to shrink the tinnitus into the background.
Masking devices (which resemble hearing aids) produce a noise that’s more pleasant than the tinnitus to help drown it out. White noise machines are often found to be especially helpful at night when you need to get to sleep.
Tinnitus retraining therapy can also be sought to help you “habituate” the signal so it’s easier to filter out with your mind.
If you think that you’re experiencing tinnitus, it’s best to look at treatment options as soon as possible.
For some people, it does go away on its own, even in long-term cases. However, some form of relief can greatly improve your quality of life.