When you start to notice that the strange continuous sound in your ears is not going to go away, then it’s time to go off and have a chat with the professionals. It is wise to have a check up and see if Tinnitus is the culprit causing that whooshing, buzzing, whistling or ringing.
Although it is a quite inconvenient and troublesome to have Tinnitus, be assured that it is usually not a symptom of anything serious. If the underlying cause can be determined then treatment may be possible, but quite often the origin remains unknown.
An examination of your head, ears, neck and eyes is usually the first step.
This is a quite straightforward test where sounds are played though headphones. You’ll indicate when you can hear the sound, and your results are measured against the norm for your age group. The test can help in ruling out and perhaps identifying any possible causes of Tinnitus.
Checking your eye movement, clenching you raw, moving your neck as well as arms and legs may then be used to help identify any underlying disorders that may need treatment. Always be sure to tell the examiner about any medications that you are currently taking.
These types of tests will be given for certain suspected underlying causes of the tinnitus.
An eye examination will check for any swelling near the back of the eye at the optic disk, a condition known as papilloedema.
Often the different type of sounds that you hear can help with tinnitus diagnosis. A humming or rushing type of sound that changes with exercise and movement. Clicking sounds may come in bursts. Some people hear a heartbeat which may indicate high blood pressure. Others hear a low-pitched ringing which grows louder at times. High pitched ringing is often the result of being exposed to excessive long time noise or can be age related. Finally, earwax or foreign bodies like hairs in the ear canal can cause different pitched sounds when they rub against the eardrum. This is good news because the cause is easily removed.
Depending on the initial consultation and the suspected underlying cause, there are a number of other specialized tests that may be required. You may need to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist or have some blood tests, or perhaps visit an audio-vestibular practitioner.
Take comfort from the fact that Tinnitus is a condition experienced by a large percentage of the population. Many people have learned to live with it and are able to ignore it as time passes. They are able to lead happy, active and normal lives. Some small lifestyle adjustments that have found to be helpful for many are: avoiding exposure to loud sounds and noises, eating less salt and avoiding caffeine and other stimulants such as nicotine. Avoiding aspirin as a medication as it is known to increase Tinnitus symptoms and getting sufficient rest to avoid fatigue.
If you suspect that a Tinnitus diagnosis may be on your horizon, then have a one-on-one with your friendly professional and give them all the ‘buzz’ at your local Leightons branch.