Tinnitus affects the quality of life for approximately 1 in 100 people. Whilst this is a strikingly high statistic, it may provide a sense of comfort for those who feel isolated with the condition. Contrary to popular assumption, tinnitus is not confined to the elderly, with various studies showing that it can actually occur at any age. It’s important not to panic if you notice any of the initial symptoms, and there are various methods to help cope with tinnitus should you become diagnosed with it.
What is tinnitus?
The truth is medical experts aren’t entirely sure, as the exact causes of tinnitus are not fully understood. The condition refers more commonly to a ‘ringing in the ear’, but it is inclusive of any sound heard within the head or ears such as humming or buzzing.
It’s not referred to as a disease or illness, instead treated as a condition or symptom that’s generated within the auditory pathways. Tinnitus can occur suddenly or gradually over time, and is associated with a range of ear problems including middle ear infection, earwax build-up, acoustic trauma as a result of exposure to loud noise and natural age-related hearing loss associated with the inner ear.
Is it treatable?
The first thing to do upon experiencing symptoms is to visit an expert hearing care provider such as Leightons Opticians & Hearing Care, who will be able to check for possible causes. If you have developed tinnitus and have an ear infection or an excessive build-up of earwax then it is most likely that it will disappear once these conditions have been addressed. However, if it is apparent that there is permanent damage to your inner ear, or no specific cause can be found, then there is a chance that your tinnitus may not fully disappear, or it may take a period of time to subside.
Research into finding a universal treatment for tinnitus is ongoing, but there are a number of existing approaches that can help today. These include sound therapy, in which neutral sounds are used to ‘mask’ the sound of tinnitus, and various forms of counselling which aim to inform you about the condition and change the way you think about it so that it becomes less noticeable. There is also a technique called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) which trains your brain to ‘detune’ the sound of tinnitus.
Things to keep in mind
Tinnitus can be distracting and deeply frustrating to deal with, but it is important to keep in mind that it is very rarely an indication of a serious disorder and there are methods available to help you cope with it. Consider your overall wellbeing: stress and anxiety can actually intensify tinnitus, which in turn will only contribute to a vicious cycle. You may find that an improvement in your general health will greatly improve your tinnitus symptoms.
If you suffer from the condition then you may feel as though nobody understands what you are going through. This can make you angry and tinnitus has been known to lead to depression for some. Don’t let it get to this stage. At Leightons their experts and audiologists are aware of the difficulties that living with tinnitus presents and are at the cutting edge of modern treatments. Get in touch for ear and eyecare advice or book a tinnitus consultation at your local branch today.