Understanding Tinnitus and How It Affects Hearing

Are you experiencing a noticeable ringing in your ears that only you can hear? Or maybe there is a hum that will not seem to go away. Chances are you are suffering from tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus, from a Latin phrase meaning “to ring or tinkle”, is a medical condition in which sound is heard when no actual sound is present. It is often described as a “ringing in the ears” but can also manifest in different forms of sound such as buzzing, roaring, whistling, clicking, swooshing, and hissing, among others. In rare cases, music is even heard.

The manifestation of tinnitus can range from soft to loud (in extreme cases), as well as high-pitched to low-pitched. It can also be experienced in one ear or in both ears.

According to statistical data, over 50 million Americans suffer from some form of tinnitus, making it one of the most common health conditions in the United States. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from chronic tinnitus while roughly 2 million are considered extreme or severe cases. It also commonly affects the elderly, around 60 years old and above.

Whether it is only slight or to an intense degree, tinnitus affects the comfort and quality of one’s life. It can be bothersome and may disrupt a person’s usual activities like working and sleeping, although usually, it does not entail a threat to one’s life.

Two Types of Tinnitus

There are generally two types of tinnitus:

  1. Subjective Tinnitus
  2. Objective Tinnitus.

In subjective tinnitus, only the individual hears the noise and is typically attributed to the auditory and neurological effects of hearing loss, although there are also other causes. This is the most common type of tinnitus, consisting of more than 99% of the reported cases.

On the other hand, objective tinnitus is characterized by being audible to other people, most probably in a group. This type is usually caused by disturbances in the circulatory and somatic or musculoskeletal systems. Objective tinnitus is rarer than its subjective counterpart, as it consists of only less than 1% of all tinnitus cases in the United States.

What are the Causes of Tinnitus?

The common cause of tinnitus is damage to the hairs in our inner ears. This is usually brought about by age and constant exposure to loud noises, or a combination of the two.

Other causes are ear or sinus infections, damages to the middle ears, cardiovascular or blood flow problems, significant brain injury or brain tumors, hormonal changes, and certain medicines, among others.

How is Tinnitus treated?

If you feel like you are experiencing tinnitus, it is advisable to consult an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) or a hearing professional with Beltone DFW immediately to check for the cause of your tinnitus and if it is life-threatening or not.

Sadly, there is no known cure for tinnitus. Most that have this condition learn to just simply “tune out” and live with it. If there is anything to be prescribed, it is usually for the other conditions that tinnitus commonly effects. These can include hearing impairment, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression.

Tinnitus will undoubtedly affect an individual’s life in a negative way. But keeping a positive outlook and seeking help to understand what options there are to assist with it is essential to enjoy life despite the condition.