What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus causes you to hear noises that aren’t generated by traffic, people, speakers or any other external outlet. When you have tinnitus, you can hear sounds even in tranquil environments. Although most people experience short, mild bouts of tinnitus, it can become a chronic issue. In this case, it’s always beneficial to seek advice from an audiologist.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a condition in itself. It is often a symptom or side effect of an underlying problem or a byproduct of being in a certain environment. Many of us will have experienced short-term symptoms of tinnitus after going to a concert, for example. When you’re exposed to loud noises over a prolonged period of time, it’s common to hear ringing in the ears. Ringing is the most common sound reported by tinnitus sufferers, but it is also possible to experience whooshing, humming, hissing and buzzing noises. With tinnitus, you hear these sounds even though they are not being produced by an external source.
What causes tinnitus?
There are many reasons why you may find yourself struggling with tinnitus, and sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint a single cause. In most cases of temporary tinnitus, exposure to high levels of noise is to blame. In chronic cases, tinnitus is often a sign of underlying issues, which may include hearing loss, middle ear infections and conditions that affect the ears, including Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis and glue ear. In less common cases, taking certain types of medication and head injuries may be contributing factors.
Hearing loss can exacerbate the symptoms of tinnitus, as the sounds you hear in the ears are not masked by other noises. If you can’t hear cars passing at night or people talking in a cafe when you grab a coffee, for example, you might find that the ringing noises in your ear get louder. Improving your hearing opens you up to those external sounds you’ve been missing out on and this often reduces the severity of tinnitus symptoms.
Exposure to loud noises can cause damage to the delicate hair cells within the ears. Temporary exposure, for example, going to a concert, isn’t likely to cause long-term issues, but if you have to contend with noisy environments on a regular basis, it’s advisable to think about how you can protect your ears. If you work in a live music venue or you use power tools or heavy-duty machinery, wearing ear defenders is a good idea.
If tinnitus is associated with infections or underlying conditions, treating these may have a positive impact on your symptoms.
Should I see an audiologist?
If you’re having difficulties with your hearing or you’ve started to experience more frequent bouts of more severe tinnitus, you don’t have to soldier on and hope for the best. Your audiologist can use their expertise and experience and a host of treatment options to find a solution.
If you’re worried about tinnitus and want to seek the relief you deserve, call and make an appointment with your audiologist today.