Tinnitus can affect anyone. It can be a temporary (acute) condition, or a long term (chronic) one. It’s unpleasant, but rarely a sign of anything serious. Most tinnitus symptoms are subjective, meaning that only the sufferer can hear them.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
Tinnitus symptoms can be frustrating; they can interfere with sleep, your ability to hear and concentrate. Tonal sounds are almost constant and the volume can vary. Pulsatile sounds are often in-time with the heartbeat. On infrequent occasions, sounds can involve music or singing.
Here are just some sounds that sufferers of tinnitus describe:
- Ocean waves
The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) put together a list of the most commonly heard tinnitus sounds, which you can listen to here. This can help you to identify those sounds that most closely matches the symptoms you’re experiencing. Understanding this can help you more accurately explain your tinnitus to your hearing care professional, doctor, or loved ones.
Understanding Your Symptoms
If you’ve decided to speak to a hearing care professional about your tinnitus to explore how to relieve the symptoms, you’ll be asked questions such as:
- How long have you had the symptoms?
- Are they worse at any time of the day?
- How often do you hear them?
- Does the sound ever change?
- Which ear is causing the issue? Both?
- How loud is the noise?
- Is the pitch high or low?
- Does the issue cause you significant problems or just a little irritating?
- Does anything make it worse, such as exposure to noise or caffeine intake?
These will be followed by a physical ear exam and hearing assessment. Pitch and loudness matching tests will assess the frequency and level of your symptoms. You may be asked to move your jaw, eyes, head or limbs too.
Treatments are available to relieve the symptoms. However the tinnitus itself may be caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment. This is why seeking professional advice is important.
Potential underlying causes include:
- Hearing loss
- Meniere’s Disease
- Otosclerosis (abnormal middle ear bone growth)
- Acoustic neuroma (benign tumor)
- Atherosclerosis of the carotid artery (plaque build up)
- High blood pressure
- Impacted ear wax
- Poor diet
- Head or neck trauma
- Multiple sclerosis
- Arthritis of the neck
The following can increase your risk of developing tinnitus:
- Loud noise exposure, i.e. music or machinery which damages inner ear hair cells.
- Age-related hearing loss.
- Men are more prone to tinnitus.
- Cardiovascular problems, i.e high blood pressure or narrowed arteries increase the chances of tinnitus.
- Taking certain medications in high doses, i.e some antibiotics, aspirin, antidepressants, cancer drugs, water pills, quinine medication for malaria etc and ototoxic drugs.
Left untreated, tinnitus can lead to depression and anxiety. This is avoidable; our hearing care professionals can advice on how to relieve your symptoms. Book in your appointment by clicking here, or call us on (864) 546-5708.