As Hearing Worsens You Are More Likely To Experience Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a noise heard by the patient that comes from inside their head, but is not associated with any external noise source. Tinnitus can come and go, or be continuous. It can sound like a low roar, hissing or high-pitched ringing. It may occur in both ears or just one ear.
The Canadian Hearing Society reports that tinnitus is a problem that affects about 10% to 15% of the population. About 5% of the population reports severely intrusive tinnitus affecting day-to-day activities. Tinnitus can have a major impact on people’s daily lives, including stress, anxiety, anger and sleep loss.
Noise exposure is the leading cause of tinnitus and is very preventable with the use of hearing protection. Repeated harmful noise exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.
Tinnitus has many causes. The Canadian Academy of Audiology reports that some of the causes of tinnitus are due to:
- Disorders in the outer ear such as excessive ear wax (cerumen), a foreign body, perforated eardrum, or a hair touching the eardrum. Often, removal of the problem (wax, hair, etc.) will relieve the tinnitus.
- Disorders in the middle ear such as an ear infection, otosclerosis, or a benign tumor.
- Disorders in the inner ear such as damage due to noise exposure, presbycusis (hearing loss from aging), Meniere’s Disesase which is also accompanied by episodic dizziness, nausea, ear pressure, and fluctuating hearing loss.
- Trauma to the head or neck, such as concussion or whiplash, can cause long-lasting tinnitus.
- Certain medications can cause head noises. They include anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and quinine, some sedatives and antidepressants, and certain antibiotics and chemotherapeutic agents including furosemide, cisplatinum, streptomycin, neomycin, and kanamycin.
- One of the most difficult causes of tinnitus to diagnose is a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) which is a small tumor pressing on the vestibular nerve leading from the cochlea to the brain. Tinnitus may be the only initial symptom.
- Various other causes such as high or low blood pressure, diabetes, vascular disorders, temporomandibular (jaw-joint) disorders, allergies, syphilis and thyroid dysfunction.
Research from the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) reveals “tinnititus is more common in men, seniors, blue-collar workers, and people with certain common health problems (arthritis, hypertension, varicose veins, and arteriosclerosis). But all of these associations are probably explained by one simple correlation: The worse your hearing is, the more likely you are to have tinnitus.”
HHF also reports whether the hearing problem is in the inner ear or the middle ear, or what otologic disorder has caused it, that roughly 90 percent of tinnitus cases occur with an underlying hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss will continue to progress over time and is usually more severe in men than in women of the same age. As a result, HHF states tinnitus occurrence is most likely to be higher in men and to increase with age.
“As tinnitus is a symptom not a disease, it is important to evaluate the underlying cause, “said Doctor of Audiology, David Patterson, Au.D., R.Aud, Aud(c) and Director of Audiology for Pindrop Hearing Centres across Canada. “Each patient should have his/her ears examined and a hearing test. The entire health picture should be taken into consideration as tinnitus can have many different causes which may also need to be treated.”
There is no cure for tinnitus, however your hearing care professional can help you make it more manageable by providing solutions which will help control symptoms. As tinnitus is experienced by people in a variety of ways, each patient has different needs and requires a personalized solution.
To lessen the effects of tinnitus, some people treat symptoms of tinnitus with hearing aids. Other treatments include counseling, diet considerations, stress management and support groups.
Sound therapy is another alternative that works by shifting your attention away from the types of sounds experienced as a result of tinnitus. It will not eliminate symptoms but make them more manageable.
If you have concerns about your hearing loss and tinnitus or to book an appointment for a free hearing test please contact Pindrop Hearing Centres.