Tinnitus is the name given for hearing noises that do not come from an external source. Tinnitus can be minor and not very noticeable.
Ahmeys experts will be able to talk through your symptoms and undertake an examination of the ear, if necessary, to ascertain an underlying cause in order to better treat or manage it.
However, a consultation is recommended if tinnitus is either regular or constant or is having a debilitating effect on sleep or concentration. A GP appointment is highly recommended if tinnitus occurs after a head injury, in time with your pulse or alongside sudden hearing loss, vertigo or weakness in facial muscles.
The sounds associated with Tinnitus may come and go, or be constant. They may also be heard in your head, in both ears or be isolated to just one ear.
Tinnitus is commonly described as:
For one in three people, it is not clear what the cause of tinnitus is. However, there is a correlation between tinnitus and the following:
- some form of hearing loss, whether age-related or the result of an ear infection or wax build-up
- loud noises, such as loud music or working in a noisy environment (e.g., night club, factory or construction site)
- conditions such as diabetes, MS (multiple sclerosis) or thyroid disorders
- as a side effect of some chemotherapy NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics and aspirin
- depression or anxiety
- Ménière’s disease
Some forms of tinnitus are easy to treat. For example, infection or wax build-up can be easily treated with medication or a simple procedure. In cases of tinnitus being caused by loud noises, steps can be taken to limit exposure to sound. However, some cases of tinnitus (e.g. those caused by age-related hearing loss) cannot be treated that easily. In these instances, there are ways to help manage your tinnitus.
Some helpful options include:
- try some relaxation techniques (e.g. yoga and deep breathing exercises)
- join a support group such as those run by the British Tinnitus Association (08000180527)
Additionally, try to avoid:
- total silence – soft music sounds (sound therapy) can distract you from the tinnitus
- focusing on the tinnitus – activities and hobbies can also helping distract you
In some cases where tinnitus cannot be treated or the cause of it is unknown, a referral can be made for a type of talking therapy.
- CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) – helps to reduce anxiety levels by altering your perception of your condition
- tinnitus retraining therapy – sound therapy is used to retrain the brain to ignore or become less aware of the tinnitus
- counselling – helps you learn about your condition alongside exploring different methods of coping and management.