We thought that we would continue to touch on the topic of tinnitus in aid of Tinnitus Awareness Week between 7 and 13 February, which is being recognised around the world. For those who’ve been living with tinnitus, you undoubtedly know more than you care to about this awful condition. But for people new to tinnitus, or who are still figuring what this “ringing in the ears” actually means, here’s a quick introduction.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears when no external sound is present. In most cases, it is a subjective sound, which means that you are the only one that can hear it. While some describe their tinnitus as ringing in the ears, others say their tinnitus sounds more like hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping.

For many, tinnitus is mild and sporadic. But for others, it can be severe and last all day every day. We have found that most people will try anything to make their tinnitus less annoying, including resorting to acupuncture, eardrops, herbal remedies, hypnosis and more. Tinnitus affects nearly one in every six of us. Sadly, there is no cure for tinnitus, but many methods to help alleviate the persistence of it.

What causes tinnitus?

Health experts and scientists still don’t know the exact cause of tinnitus. But several sources are known to trigger or worsen ringing in the ears, including:

  • Loud Noises and Hearing Loss — Exposure to loud noises can destroy the cilia/tiny hairs in the cochlea, causing permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
  • Aging — Natural aging, too, gradually destroys the cilia, and is a leading cause of hearing loss. Tinnitus is a common symptom of age-related hearing loss.
  • Ototoxic Medications – Some prescription medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants can be ototoxic, which means they are harmful to the inner ear as well as the nerve fibres connecting the cochlea to the brain.
  • Health Conditions – Tinnitus has been associated with a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, fibromyalgia and chronic pain, head or neck trauma, jaw misalignment, auditory, vestibular or facial nerve tumours as well as stress and fatigue.
Are there any cures for tinnitus?

There is currently no known cure for tinnitus. However, there are treatment options available. Since nothing can make the tinnitus go away, the goal of treatments is to “lower the perceived burden of tinnitus.” Hearing aids are one popular treatment option that can be considered. Hearing aids can help in several ways, including by masking the tinnitus sound.

What to do if you have tinnitus

Since the exact cause of tinnitus is unknown, visiting our owner audiologist, Sybrand Strauss for an evaluation is a smart first step. This evaluation can help determine how intense the tinnitus is and what may be causing it. Specialised tests can also be performed to evaluate your auditory system. Some of these tests measure the specific features of the tinnitus itself, and could include:

  • Audiogram
  • Evoked response audiometry
  • Tinnitus pitch match
  • Tinnitus loudness match

This evaluation is also a good time to discuss tinnitus treatment options.

We’re here to help

Anytime there is an entire week devoted to one thing, it must be important. But as leaders in hearing health and wellness, Strauss Audiology doesn’t need a special week to appreciate the seriousness of tinnitus. That’s why we’re committed to helping people find relief 52 weeks a year, every year.

About Strauss Audiology
Strauss Audiology is a professional audiology business in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, offering expert, effective hearing advice that is tailored to clients’ unique hearing needs. We conduct hearing evaluations, hearing tests and vertigo assessments, and provide a range of solutions to improve and protect clients’ hearing. This includes providing hearing aids to Cape Town clients. With 16 years of experience, and with the qualifications and certifications to deliver leading hearing care, you can trust us to take care of your hearing needs.

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