Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the term for the perception of sound in one or both ears – or in the head – in the absence of any ‘real’ sound from outside. It’s often referred to as ‘ringing in the ears,’ although the sound can be described as a variety of things. Common descriptions are hissing, buzzing, chirping and humming sounds. The sound of the tinnitus doesn’t typically explain its cause.

Tinnitus Assessments

If you are experiencing troublesome tinnitus make an appointment at Can:Do Hearing with one of our experienced audiologists. At this appointment, your audiologist will spend time discussing:

  • The nature of your tinnitus
  • Possible causes
  • Management strategies

Your tinnitus consultation may also include a hearing assessment.

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What causes tinnitus?

The actual mechanism responsible for tinnitus is not yet known. However, we do know that it is a real – not imagined – symptom of activity and/or damage in the auditory or neural system. The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to excessively loud noise, either a single intense event (like a shotgun blast) or long-term exposure either through work or recreational activities (shooting, chainsaws, loud music). Tinnitus can also result from trauma to the head or neck and a small percentage of tinnitus cases arise from medical conditions.  Finally, prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause or exacerbate tinnitus.

What makes tinnitus worse?

Loud noise! It’s so important for your total hearing health to protect yourself from loud noise. Excessive use of alcohol can also worsen tinnitus for some people, as can caffeine and nicotine. Many drugs can have tinnitus as a side effect (check with your doctor). Stress is also a major factor, and many of our clients report they notice a reduction in the volume of their tinnitus when their stress levels are lower.

Who does tinnitus affect?

Tinnitus is very common, most people experience it in their lives typically in a quiet environment or after high levels of noise exposure. Troublesome tinnitus affects approximately 11% of the South Australian population, including people of all ages.

Tinnitus is most commonly experienced by those with a history of noise exposure, those with hearing loss and the elderly.

Children can also experience tinnitus, however, they are less likely to say they have tinnitus because they may not notice a problem or understand what it could be. Many children with tinnitus seem to grow out of it before they reach adulthood. If you think your child has tinnitus, see your child’s GP or an audiologist.

Does it mean I’m going deaf?

No. Whilst tinnitus can be an indication that there has been some kind of damage to the auditory system, it does not mean that you will become deaf. Tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, and hearing loss does not cause tinnitus, although the two often exist together.

How do you treat tinnitus?

Whilst there is no cure, the symptoms can often be managed by treating the underlying cause of tinnitus, or by altering reactions to it. It’s important to note that these options don’t work to the same degree for everyone – which is why it’s so important to discuss your personal situation with your audiologist.

Many people naturally ‘habituate’ to tinnitus that is their brain stops listening to the sound and they no longer notice that it is there. Other people require some extra assistance. If you feel like you need some help to better manage your tinnitus, give Can:Do Hearing a call and make an appointment with one of our audiologists.

Can:Do Hearing are the recognised experts in tinnitus in South Australia and provide Tinnitus SA information at the request of the South Australian Government.

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