My Ears are Ringing – Do I have Tinnitus?
If you hear ringing or buzzing sounds, or other sounds that no one else around you is hearing, you might well have tinnitus. So it is reasonable to ask ‘Do I have Tinnitus?’
Some people hear other sounds like clicking, hissing or roaring or any other sound that has no external source. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom of (ear- and other) conditions.
Do I have Tinnitus – How Bad is it?
Tinnitus severity ranges from person to person. Some people have no or only slight impairment. For example, they only experience tinnitus if they are in a quiet environment or if they are in a stressful situation. Others experience permanent moderate to severe impairment that affects their private and professional lives. ³
How Common is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is common; with up to 1 in 5 people having it globally. It is estimated that about 1 to 2 out of each 100 people have such annoying tinnitus that it affects their daily living ³. It appears that tinnitus is more common in older people and in males.4 Many authors, including Celene McNeill and her colleagues, indicate the close relationship between hearing loss and tinnitus:
“The presence of tinnitus is strongly related to the presence of hearing loss” ¹
But hearing loss is not the only risk factor or condition associated with tinnitus.
Tinnitus: risk factors and associated conditions
Bagulay and colleagues 5 summarised the likely risk factors and associated conditions of tinnitus. They include, among others:
- ear disorders (e.g. Meniere’s disease),
- neurological conditions,
- head/neck injuries or disorders,
- psychological conditions (e.g. depression),
- drugs that are toxic to the ear,
- other conditions (e.g. hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes mellitus, hormonal changes during pregnancy)
Who do I ask… ‘Do I have tinnitus?’
It is good to note that even something simple like impacted earwax can lead to tinnitus. It is therefore advisable to consult with a qualified health professional, like your audiologist to find out if you have tinnitus and its possible cause; and the related possible management or coping options.
Audiological and other options to cope with your Tinnitus
So far drugs have not been able to provide long-term reduction of tinnitus. However, there are several audiological interventions that can provide relief.
Auditory stimulation through hearing aids is already commonly used in patients with hearing loss and tinnitus with good results, also in patients with Meniere’s disease ¹,². Other forms of auditory stimulation are music therapy, cochlear implants, and individualised sound stimulation… Auditory therapy
Your audiologist can advise what is the best audiological solution or any other strategy to cope with your tinnitus. ³
- Celene McNeill, Dayse Távora-Vieira, Fadwa Alnafjan, Grant D. Searchfield, David Welch. Tinnitus pitch, masking, and the effectiveness of hearing aids for tinnitus therapy. December 2012. International Journal of Audiology. Volume 51(12): pages 914-919.
- Celene McNeill, Alan Taylor. Tinnitus perception and the effects of a self-programmable hearing aid on hearing fluctuation due to Meniere’s disease. January 2010. The New Zealand medical journal. Volume 123 (1311): pages 126-135.
- Langguth, PM Kreuzer, T Kleinjung, D De Ridder. Tinnitus: causes and clinical management. September 2013. The Lancet – Neurology. Volume 12(9): pages 920-930.
- McCormack, M. Edmondson-Jones, S Somerset, D Hall. A systematic review of the reporting of tinnitus prevalence and severity. July 2016. Hearing Research. Volume 337: pages 70-79.
- D. Bagulay, D. McFerran, D. Hall. Tinnitus. 9 November 2013. Volume 382 (9904): pages 1600-7.