Dispelling the myths about tinnitus and its causes
If you’re one of the many people in the world suffering from tinnitus, you’ll know the impact it can have on all aspects of your life, from your work to your social and family life. This post will take you through the various causes of tinnitus, and debunk the myths surrounding it.
What exactly is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual sound is present.
The causes of tinnitus can be varied, but it can be put into two different categories: tonal and non-tonal.
Tonal tinnitus refers to the perception of overlapping sounds or near-continuous sound with a well-defined frequency, such as ringing, whistling, or buzzing. This is the most common form of tinnitus. Non-tonal forms of tinnitus include clicking, humming, rumbling and crackling.
What causes tinnitus?
Though the exact cause of tinnitus is unknown, contributing triggers and factors have been identified. These include excessive exposure to loud noises due to damage to the auditory system. It could also be the result of a chronic neck muscle strain or jaw-joint dysfunction, such as teeth grinding.
The following are the four types of tinnitus and their known contributing factors:
Subjective tinnitus This is the most common type and accounts for 95% of cases. It can only be heard by you, and it’s usually caused due to exposure to excessive noises. It can appear quickly and can last up to three months, which is known as acute, or up to 12 months, which is known as subacute. In some cases, it may last longer.
Objective tinnitus This is very rare. It can be heard by a doctor by either listening very closely to your ear or using a stethoscope. It may occur due to vascular deformities or involuntary muscle contractions. The sound is often described as pulsating.
Neurological tinnitus This type of tinnitus is caused by a disorder known as “Meniere’s disease.” This then affects your neurological system. It’s often accompanied by vertigo, dizziness, and issues with balance.
Somatic tinnitus This type is worsened, caused or otherwise related to the sensory system in your own body. Sensory signals coming from various parts of the body are disrupted, causing a spasm that produces tinnitus.
Myths surrounding tinnitus
1. There is nothing you can do about tinnitus
Of course there is! Research into tinnitus is constantly ongoing, and treatments are always improving and evolving. Whether your tinnitus is severe, moderate or mild, you can find a treatment. For example, hearing aids by Signia are small technological marvels. They not only improve hearing and amplify sounds, they also provide a variety of solutions to relieve the effects of tinnitus.
2. Everyone with tinnitus eventually goes deaf
Hearing loss and tinnitus can co-exist. However, they are different conditions. If you suffer from tinnitus, that doesn’t mean you’re going to experience hearing loss, and even if you do, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re going deaf. Hearing aids can often manage the symptoms of tinnitus and correct hearing loss at the same time.
3. Tinnitus always manifests as a ringing in the ears
Tinnitus sounds can be different for everyone. Ringing is quite common, but so is whooshing, buzzing, or humming. The actual sounds also vary per individual each day.