Tinnitus is often referred to as a “phantom sound” because one hears sound when there is no external physical sound present. People experience it as head noise or ear-ringing and use a variety of terms to describe it, such as hissing, rushing, ringing, roaring or chirping. If you or someone you know think or have tinnitus, review our list of tinnitus FAQ's. We’ve listed some of the most common questions we hear from patients, which should help you understand what tinnitus is, why it occurs, and how you can treat it.
What Does Tinnitus Sound Like?
Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears, but each individual's experience can differ. One may hear different types of sound, including ringing, buzzing, whooshing or humming. The noise may be low, medium or high‑pitched or the sound could vary between these. You may experience just one noise, or several. The sound may be constant or it may come and go intermittently.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the perception of sound that has no external source. Those afflicted with tinnitus often describe it as sounding like ringing, hissing, roaring, buzzing, or whooshing, and it can be perceived in one or both ears. Some experience tinnitus intermittently while others hear it constantly. Stress in life, fatigue, anxiety, and other triggers can make the sound worse.
How Common Is Tinnitus?
According to the American Tinnitus Association, nearly 50 million Americans (about 15% of the general population) experience some form of tinnitus. Of those group, approximately 10 to 12 million experience chronic tinnitus and seek out medical attention. For about 1 to 2 million Americans, tinnitus is very debilitating, ruthlessly reducing their quality of life and compromising their cognitive abilities.
What Causes Tinnitus?
A variety of different factors can cause or exacerbate tinnitus, including
- Wax Buildup
- Loud Noise
- Certain Disorders - hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Ménière’s disease, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Hearing Loss
- Ototoxicity - medications which are harmful and damaging to the ear
Do Children Also Experience Tinnitus?
Yes, children also can experience tinnitus. In 2001, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) reported that nearly 13% of children between the ages of 6-19 have some form of noise-induced hearing loss that can cause tinnitus or lead to its development. Those who have frequent exposure to concerts and other loud noises can be succeptible to both hearing loss and tinnitus.
Who Is Most Susceptible To Tinnitus?
Generally, people with frequent exposure to loud noise can cause both hearing loss and tinnitus. So, musicians, construction workers, and airport ground staff are more likely to have tinnitus. In fact, in 2007, a study of 900 musicians found that at least 60% reported occasional tinnitus.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Tinnitus?
If you think you have tinnitus, first schedule a consultation with Dr. Daria and Rocky Mountain Audiology. We will help determine the cause and severity of your tinnitus and will examine your ears, ask about your hearing health, and conduct audiometric testing. Using the information gathered, Dr. Daria will explore the best treatment options for your tinnitus.
Will my tinnitus go away on its own?
In many cases, tinnitus dissipates on its own regardless of the cause. But, it's not advised to wait weeks, months, or even years for your tinnitus to disappear. If your tinnitus continues for more than a couple of weeks and negatively affects your quality of life, consult Rocky Mountain Audiology. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can find a treatment protocol to resolve your tinnitus. This is especially important if your tinnitus grows louder over time, as this may indicate that you suffer from progressive hearing loss.
Is There A Cure For Tinnitus?
Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are several treatments that can be very helpful.
Noises In My Head - Is This Tinnitus?
Though tinnitus is often thought to be an ear problem, it’s generated further up in the auditory system by the brain itself. The perception of tinnitus varies from person to person - the noise may be heard in one ear, in both ears or in the middle of the head or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location – or it may even ‘move’ around. All of this is perfectly normal for tinnitus.
Who Experiences Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is very common and is reported in all age groups, even young children. About 30% of people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives, but the number of people who live with persistent tinnitus is approximately 10%. Of those people who have persistent tinnitus, around 1 in 10 will find it has a significant impact on their quality of life.
Tinnitus is most common in people who have hearing loss (usually caused by aging, or exposure to loud noise) or other ear problems, but it can also be found in people with normal hearing. There are also a range of ailments that may cause tinnitus.
What is the difference between objective tinnitus and subjective tinnitus?
Most people with tinnitus suffer from subjective tinnitus, which is the perception of sound without the presence of an acoustic stimulus. Objective tinnitus usually a rarer form of tinnitus in which the troubling sound can, in some cases, be heard by others. It usually results from noise generated by structures located in or near the ear.
What is an audiologist?
Audiologists are healthcare professionals who are experts and specialize in identifying, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring systems of the ear and hearing. They are trained to manage and treat a variety of related issues, including tinnitus, hyperacusis, hearing loss, and balance problems. Audiologists also dispense hearing devices (hearing aids), map cochlear implants, and help users manage their hearing devices.
Contact Rocky Mountain Audiology For Help
Better hearing care means better health care. Schedule An Appointment today so we can evaluate your tinnitus.