Is a friend or relative suffering in secret from this health condition? Are you?
One that’s often not revealed is tinnitus. A constant ringing in the ears is how it’s often described.
For people who suffer with tinnitus, it can be a debilitating, making it difficult to think clearly as the sounds within your ear can seem overpowering. Often it’s something that makes it hard for people to sleep, as when everything is quiet (as is generally the case at night) it means that there is little to distract them from the tinnitus sounds. Tinnitus has been linked to concentration and memory problems, depression and anxiety, stress and irritability. So, if you suffer from tinnitus, it’s certainly worth seeing if there’s anything you can do to improve the symptoms you have.
What causes tinnitus?
Often tinnitus can be initiated by a hearing loss problem. It can be related to inner ear damage. The inner ear contains the cochlea and auditory nerve. If the cochlea – a coiled tube in the inner ear with a large number of sensitive hair cells on it – is damaged, it stops sending information to your brain (via the auditory nerve). As a result, the brain then actively ‘looks for’ signals from the still-functioning part of the cochlea. Those signals are then over-represented in the brain, causing the tinnitus sounds. If you have tinnitus, it’s definitely worth having a hearing test to see if hearing loss is the cause. Before you do, it is also a good idea to find out what happens during a hearing test here at Hidden Hearing.
Other possible causes of tinnitus include a build-up of earwax, a middle ear infection or glue ear, otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear which leads to hearing loss), a perforated ear drum, and Ménière’s disease (an inner ear condition that causes balance problems) and anemia. When you have anemia, the blood has a reduced number of red blood cells, which makes the blood thinner and so it circulates more quickly, sometimes producing a sound in the process.
The tinnitus that affects older people is generally caused by natural hearing loss, when hearing nerves become less sensitive. Younger people can be affected by tinnitus if they are subjected to hearing damage through excessive noise.
How to ease the symptoms of tinnitus.
As tinnitus is often linked with stress, it’s good to take some pro-active steps towards relaxation. This might be something like booking in for a massage, or another holistic therapy such as acupuncture.
If it turns out that your tinnitus is as a result of hearing-loss, then treatment for hearing loss such as a hearing aid can work in two ways. It can help to improve your hearing so that you can hear environmental noise and other people’s conversations, and this in itself can help distract you from the sounds caused by the tinnitus.
In the same way, being able to distract yourself from the tinnitus can be helpful. For example, you can have a radio on as background noise. This is useful during the day, but also at night when you find that the tinnitus sounds seem more prevalent as your environment is quieter than in the daytime.