If you have ever heard a buzzing, ringing, whistling, hissing or pulsing sound in your ears then you’ve probably had tinnitus. Tinnitus refers to sounds which do not come from an external source but can be heard in the ears or head.
Tinnitus is extremely common. Most of us experience it at some time in our lives. It usually just lasts a short time, such as after working in a noisy environment, going to a rock concert or loud club, or listening carefully in a quiet room. But sometimes tinnitus can be persistent and should be checked out by a specialist.
What causes tinnitus?
Although tinnitus is often associated with a hearing loss, it doesn’t mean you’re going deaf. There are a number of causes which may trigger tinnitus, including:
• Middle ear infection
• Dental or jaw problems
• Some medications
• Exposure to loud noises
• Inner ear damage
• Hearing loss.
The tinnitus itself will not cause a hearing loss or other illness. Persistent tinnitus is often triggered or made worse by emotional events, such as bereavement, stress, accident and injury (not necessarily of the ear), or moving from a noisy environment to a much quieter one. It may start during a period of depression or anxiety. Severe tinnitus may have a significant impact on lifestyle. It can interfere with sleep, relationships and functionality. Sufferers may require extended medical support and possibly counselling, as it can lead to depression. You can seek guidance through your GP.
Who has tinnitus?
Tinnitus is more common in people who have a hearing impairment. If you find it difficult to hear, communication is often a strain. This ‘straining to hear’ means the subconscious focuses on picking up anything coming from the inner ear.