Some people hear a persistent buzzing or ringing sound in their ears that seems to come from nowhere. Others may hear a combination of sounds such as chirping and whistling. These are signs of tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is any sound in your head or ears for which there is no external source. It is believed to be caused by issues with the cochlea hair cells and/or nerves supplying your inner ears. In most cases of tinnitus, the more you think about it, the more you perceive the sounds. This creates a bit of a vicious circle, meaning tinnitus can be difficult to ignore.
It is often linked to presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), but it is not an illness in itself; it is known as a ‘non-specific symptom’. This is because it can be linked to a major change in your life or possibly an injury, such as a head injury, ear infection or even derive from increased stress levels.
Many of us also suffer temporary tinnitus – you may have noticed a ringing sound in your ears when you have a bad cold, or after being exposed to loud music at a concert.
Tinnitus can occur at any age, although it’s often linked to older people with age-related hearing loss, and varies from mild to severe. It usually involves high-pitched sounds and may become worse when background noise is low, for example at night. It may also be related to your posture; you might hear sounds when you’re lying down or when you turn your head suddenly. Often tinnitus comes and goes, and for most people it may just be a mild irritant. However, in chronic or severe cases, you may have difficulty in sleeping or in concentrating on tasks.
What you can do
There is no single treatment for tinnitus and it depends on the cause of the condition as to the best way to manage it:
- Leightons offers a tinnitus consultation service, where we can help you find ways to manage your tinnitus that best suit you and your lifestyle.
- Since temporary tinnitus in particular can be linked to a wide variety of underlying problems, sometimes it is simply a case of treating that problem to relieve the tinnitus.
- Sometimes tinnitus may be caused by a build-up of ear wax. Leightons offer a wax removal service, carried out by fully-trained audiologists, to help treat this.
- Sometimes listening to natural sounds such as raindrops or ocean waves can also prove to be relaxing. If you’re in a quiet room, putting on some music, the radio or television can alleviate the ringing in your ears.
- If tinnitus is due to some level of hearing loss, many hearing aids now include a ‘tinnitus feature’ that allows you to customise your tinnitus relief. This usually involves a choice of sounds that you can listen to instead, including bird song, white noise, music, chimes etc. Oticon Alta 2 Pro Ti hearing aids offer some of the best tinnitus relief on the market, and can also be connected to your phone (via a streamer). Some digital hearing aids, such as ReSound LiNX2 or Starkey Halo 2, even allow you to control and personalise your tinnitus relief via a smartphone app.
We’re with you every step of the way
If you or someone you know is suffering with tinnitus and would like friendly help and advice on how best to manage it, come and visit us for a tinnitus consultation. Our audiologist will be able to diagnose the cause of the tinnitus and suggest the most appropriate next steps to take, whether your tinnitus is related to hearing loss or an entirely separate condition.