What is Tinnitus?
Your world is alive with sound. Laughter, unforgettable melodies, waves breaking on the shore — all these sounds enrich your life. At other times, all you want to hear is silence. So what happens when one stubborn sound won’t allow you to enjoy peace and quiet anymore?
Tinnitus can manifest as a ringing, buzzing, humming, or similar noise you hear even though there is no outside source for the sound. While you may have been told there is no cure, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to find relief and restore your peace of mind. You can learn to live with tinnitus by finding out how to control it, instead of letting it control you.
A number of articles have come out in recent years about tinnitus. You might be wondering if you have this condition, and if so what you can do about it. First, here are a few facts* you need to know:
- The prevalence of tinnitus is often related to the degree of hearing loss.
- 10 – 15% of people suffer from chronic tinnitus (i. e., more than 6 months).
- About 20% of patients with tinnitus find the symptoms difficult to bear.
- Over 90% of tinnitus sufferers also have a hearing impairment.
- Tinnitus is a common disorder with many possible triggers.
- Tinnitus is often related to spontaneous nerve fiber activity.
* hear-it.org referenced on 12/03/2014.
Here is a list of questions about the phantom noise that afflicts approximately 50 million people in the US alone. Use them to help you decide whether it’s time to see a hearing care professional for a formal diagnosis. We suggest you jot down your responses for future reference.
- Do you hear constantly hear a noise even when there is no external source for it?
- If yes, how would you describe the sound?
- Is the volume of this noise high enough to hear even over other sounds around you?
- Do you hear the noise constantly, intermittently, or only once in awhile?
- Does the sound keep you awake at night?
- Have you heard the sound for at least three months?
- Have you heard the sound for 12 months or longer?
- Did you start to hear the noise after exposure to a loud event, e.g., a rock concert, spending time at a shooting range?
- Had you taken any new medications before you began noticing the noise in your ears?
- Do you have a problem with significant wax buildup in your ears?
- Have you been diagnosed with any of the following:
- Meniere’s disease
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (aka TMD or TMJ)
- Hearing loss
- Psychological disorder (e.g., anxiety, chronic stress, depression)
- Concussion or other brain injury
- Are you avoiding activities and social situations you used to enjoy?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might have tinnitus. Tinnitus takes different forms and its effects are unique to each sufferer. And although for most types there is no complete cure, many effective treatment options are available to alleviate your discomfort.
If you haven’t already, we recommend you spend some time reading through the comprehensive tinnitus information presented on our site, including suggestions on how you can manage the symptoms of tinnitus.Learn More
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