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In light of Tinnitus Awareness Week, we discuss what tinnitus is, the causes and symptoms of tinnitus, and offer some insight into how to manage it.
Good question! Tinnitus is the perception of hearing sounds from within the body rather than from any external source. It is usually referred to as “ringing in the ears”, but it can also be associated with buzzing, whistling, hissing, whooshing, humming, and grinding. If you are experiencing these types of sounds and other people can’t hear them, then it is possible that you may be experiencing tinnitus.
There are many different forms of tinnitus and therefore not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Tinnitus results from physical changes to your body usually within the ear such as a form of ear injury or an issue with the circulatory system.
Tinnitus is a symptom usually caused by consistent loud noises or damage to the cochlear, and can often lead to lack of concentration, anxiety, and depression. Insomnia is another symptom that can be caused by tinnitus, and can be managed with Sarabec’s Sound relaxer, that works as both a stress reliever and helps give a good night’s sleep.
It’s difficult to pinpoint just one cause of tinnitus. As well as being a symptom of in-ear damage, it can also be linked to exposure to loud noises.
One thing we should note is that we are able to hear sounds thanks to the delicate hair cells in the cochlea (inner ear). They help translate the sounds that our ears pick up and then convert them into electrical impulses for our brain to interpret as recognisable sound.
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common causes of tinnitus, where there has been some damage to the sensory hair cells of the cochlear (inner ear). For example, listening to loud music or working in a very loud factory over time can overwork these hair cells in the cochlear, causing these cells to die. The hearing loss progresses for as long as the exposure to this loud noise continues.
Pulsatile tinnitus is a form of tinnitus where there is some Interruption of blood flow to the ears, usually linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, or other circulatory issues. This can cause inadequate flow of oxygen to the hair cells in the cochlear. When this happens, the hairs are either damaged or destroyed, and as they can’t regenerate, this can lead to permanent hearing loss or the person might develop tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
Tinnitus can also be linked to age-related hearing loss, earwax build-up, ear infection, head injury, anxiety, or depression. On many occasions, people may not have any obvious issues with their ears or their hearing, making it even more difficult for them to understand and manage.
Tinnitus is a very common problem and affects around 15% to 20% of people. Though tinnitus can affect people of all ages, it is more common in people aged over 65.
With tinnitus, people can hear noises in 1 or both of their ears, but this usually in their headspace, sometimes indistinguishable for outside noises. It is sometimes hard to understand where these sounds are coming from as they can differ in frequency, volume, and duration. These noises may be consistent and linger, or they may disappear over a short period of time. Additionally, one person may only hear tinnitus during some parts of their day while others hear consistent sounds all the time. Sometimes it may seem like the noise is barely there while other times it may seem so loud that it affects your concentration levels. At times, symptoms can be more intense for people who have just got back from a music concert, having been exposed to loud music.
Again, all people experience tinnitus differently. However, tinnitus is rarely a sign of any serious underlying condition, and often it may only be a minor irritation before it goes away.
For others, it may have a significant impact on everyday life and be very distressing. High-pitched sounds could affect concentration and cause problems such as difficulty sleeping (insomnia), which can then lead to anxiety and depression without the correct support.
Daily challenges might include struggling to focus on conversations and getting stressed. Often, tinnitus gets better gradually over time by disappearing on its own accord, or by habituation (the person gets used to it).
According to the NHS, there's currently no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone. However, research to find an effective treatment is continuing.
Though there is no single cure, there are treatments that can effectively help improve your tinnitus. For example, removing a build-up of earwax might help. Limiting your exposure to loud noise can help prevent tinnitus or prevent it from getting worse. Some actions you can take to help with this is move away from loud sound, turn down the volume, or wear earplugs or earmuffs.
Here are a few other ways to help you manage the condition daily:
Please remember that It's important to seek medical advice if you feel like you might be suffering from tinnitus and require some support or advice.
You can explore Sarabec’s range of Tinnitus products to help manage tinnitus symptoms at home. For FREE advice on the specifications of our products, or for some help with understanding what system might be right for you, get in touch via our contact form today. We’re always available and on hand to ensure you receive the best customer experience.
At Sarabec Ltd, the leading UK suppliers of hearing equipment, including loop systems, extra loud doorbells, phones, and other products, we aim to offer a layer of independence while supporting the day-to-day living of those with a hearing impairment.
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