Tinnitus, that is intermittent or constant ringing in one or both ears, or inside your head, affects 1 in 10 people in the UK. It affects all ages and can be a symptom of other underlying conditions so should never be ignored.
The symptoms of Tinnitus
Classically, tinnitus is a continual ringing, buzzing or hissing sound in the ear, and it can vary in severity. Symptoms of tinnitus can begin suddenly or gradually.
Tinnitus affects people in different ways and can leave them feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or tense. It can also lead to insomnia and difficulty sleeping. As stress is a contributing factor in worsening the symptoms of tinnitus, sufferers, unfortunately, find themselves in a vicious cycle of cause and effect they can’t break free from.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus causes are not fully understood and unfortunately, the condition can develop without any obvious cause or explanation. However, common causes of tinnitus can be:
- Exposure to loud noises
- Infection in the ear or from a common cold
- Injury to the ear or head
- Hearing loss
- Side effects of medication
- Earwax blockages
How to help prevent tinnitus
Prevention is better than cure so the simplest way to lower the risk of tinnitus is to protect your ears from damage. This means not only damage from loud noises, by wearing earplugs or ear defenders, but also damage from infection. Our ears have natural self-protection and self-cleaning process in the form of ear wax. Inserting objects like cotton buds into the ear canal only serves to risk damage to the eardrum, increases the risk of infection and possibly pushes earwax further down into the ear channel, compacting it.
If you experience an ear infection, it’s important not to leave it untreated. Quickly clearing up any infection reduces the risk of any long-term damage that could lead to tinnitus, so always consult your GP if you suffer from symptoms of ear infection or earache.
Whilst there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to help manage it and the impact it has on your life:
- As difficult as it may be, try to relax! Stress and anxiety can make tinnitus worse.
- Consider counselling to help you cope with tinnitus – the British Tinnitus Association can help you in finding a local hearing therapist
- Relieve the symptoms with sound therapy, that gives you something else to listen to and distracts you from the constant buzz or hum of your tinnitus.
- Book a free hearing home test with your Hearfocus local hearing care specialist who can advise you on hearing aids specifically designed to help tinnitus sufferers and which may help you through amplification. A lot of people suffering from tinnitus find hearing aids helpful in amplifying the sounds in their surrounding environment as well distracting the brain from hearing the tinnitus sounds.