“This ringing in my head is driving me nuts!”
We’re all going to experience a ringing in our ears when there is no external source of that sound. For many people this buzzing or ringing sound can be persistent, intermittent, and prolonged. Known as “tinnitus”, it is a cause of great frustration and distress for sufferers.
While tinnitus can occur in every stage of life and affects both men and women, the condition is most common among men. According to an American study, almost 12% of men who are 65 to 74 years of age are affected by tinnitus8.
Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a reflection of something else that is going on in the hearing system or brain.
Research has yet to discover a cure for the condition. As there are varying causes of tinnitus, experts focus on “management” rather than solutions.
Often the best place to start is a free hearing evaluation
. If this assessment reveals significant hearing loss, we may advise you that a hearing aid is likely to reduce or, in some cases, completely alleviate the condition.
We may also recommend an evaluation by an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist who can prescribe medical treatments. Following successful surgical treatment
for some ear problems (e.g. otosclerosis or middle ear effusion), tinnitus may fade away.
A tinnitus masker
is another option to help manage the condition where hearing loss is not present. While it looks like a hearing aid, it actually produces a blend of external sounds that stimulate hearing nerve fibres, helping deviate attention away from the tinnitus.
Clinical psychologists often recommend Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
where other treatments have failed. This therapy can be effective for some people to help alleviate distress and help them adjust to tinnitus.
The function of CBT is threefold:
- It changes the way a person perceives their tinnitus
- It teaches individuals how to focus attention away from tinnitus
- It helps people achieve control over their stress
Finally, if you suspect that tinnitus is related to a jaw alignment problem, it is worthwhile consulting your dentist.
What causes tinnitus?
Almost anything that can affect a person’s hearing can lead to tinnitus. The following have been identified as potential causes of tinnitus:
- Extreme noise: The most common cause. Both long-term exposure andsudden loud noises can trigger a permanent hearing loss that results in tinnitus.
- Hearing loss: Having to strain to hear can raise tinnitus levels.
- Meniere’s disease: A medical condition that also causes dizziness, nausea, and fluctuating hearing loss.
- Some medications: Tinnitus can be a side effect of common medicines such as antibiotics and arthritis pills.
- Stress and fatigue: Elevated stress and a poor sleep can make tinnitus worse.
- Caffeine: Tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate can all increase the severity of tinnitus, along with food and drinks containing quinine.
- Smoking: This can cause tinnitus by restricting the blood flow through your ear canal and limiting the supply of Oxygen.
- Alcohol: Red wine and champagne are well known for triggering tinnitus.
- Pregnancy, anemia, and an overactive thyroid can cause certain types of tinnitus.
- Jaw joint misalignment or muscles of the ear or throat “twitching” can cause a “clicking” type of tinnitus.
Free tinnitus assessment
The process commences with a free assessment to determine the causes and potential treatments for tinnitus. Complete the form below to be connected to a hearing assessor in your area.
We will put you in contact with a leading hearing care professional in your area