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What is that ringing in my ears?

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Do you hear it? A persistent buzzing or ringing sound that seems to come from nowhere. You may be affected by Tinnitus, which is usually described as “any sound a person can hear from inside their body rather than from an outside source”. Here’s what you need to know about tinnitus and how you can deal with it.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not just a ringing sound in your ears; you may hear a variety of sounds such as humming, whistling, hissing or sizzling. Sometimes the sound in your ear may beat to the rhythm of your pulse – a condition called as pulsatile tinnitus. It can vary from mild to severe; it may be more noticeable at certain times of the day and may also be related to posture – you may hear sounds when you’re lying down or when you turn your head suddenly. More often than not, tinnitus involves high-pitched sounds, though hearing low-pitch humming and murmuring is not uncommon. If you have long-term tinnitus or some level of hearing loss, you may also suffer from musical hallucinations. Tinnitus is more common in people over 40 years of age and men seem to be more affected by it than women.

Why does it manifest?

There are several reasons you may be experiencing tinnitus.

  • • The most common cause is hearing loss
  • • Living or working around excessively loud noises can cause ringing in your ears
  • • A build-up of earwax
  • • A middle ear infection or a ruptured eardrum
  • • Large amounts of medicines such as aspirin or antibiotics
  • • Intake of excessive alcohol or caffeinated beverages
  • • Direct blow or injuries to the ear or head
  • • Rapid change in external pressure
  • • Migraine headaches
  • • Vascular problems, including high blood pressure
  • • Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis
  • • Stress and anxiety can also trigger tinnitus

Often tinnitus comes and goes and does not require medical intervention. For chronic cases, it is important to note what triggers tinnitus for you, as causes vary widely. Noting times of the day when it is particularly troublesome is also helpful.

Diagnosis

Tinnitus is not a condition in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying cause – most commonly age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. A hearing assessment will help in diagnosing the problem. Your hearing care practitioner will try to determine the underlying cause by seeking to understand:

  • • Kind of sound you hear
  • • Its frequency
  • • Whether it involves one ear or both
  • • Whether it pulsates
  • • Whether you live or work in a very noisy environment

Treatment

There is no single treatment for tinnitus since the underlying causes can vary widely. If the cause can be determined, appropriate treatment can be provided. For example, if a build-up of earwax is the cause, eardrops or ear irrigation may be recommended. Listening to natural sounds such as raindrops or ocean waves can also prove to be relaxing.

If your hearing assessment points towards a degree of hearing loss, it is important that corrective measures be taken immediately. Correcting even a minor hearing loss can give you relief from tinnitus. Hearing aids have come a long way from the unsightly, bulky contraptions of the past. Leightons Hearing Care is a specialist digital hearing aids provider. Drop by at your nearest branch and let our qualified audiologist assist you with your hearing care requirements. We pride ourselves in offering personalised service and the best solution to your needs, customised to your lifestyle. Book an appointment online today!


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