Tinnitus is often defined as perceiving sound when there is no source of sound present. More than 45 million Americans have experienced tinnitus at some point in their lives, either in one ear or both ears, making tinnitus an issue that many medical practitioners and researchers want to continue studying and learning about. While tinnitus has physical symptoms, it also affects a person’s well-being and emotional state, often leading to varying levels of distress, anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping. Those who suffer from tinnitus may find some solace in understanding its resulting symptoms and potential causes.
What are the Symptoms of Tinnitus?
The most common symptoms of tinnitus are ringing in the ears or a sensation of fullness in the head. The exact sound that individuals with tinnitus hear fluctuates wildly, depending on the person. Tinnitus may manifest as a low-pitched buzzing or high-pitched hissing, it may be a subtle annoyance or so loud and persistent that it constantly interferes with daily activities and it may be continual or intermittent. When it comes to tinnitus, there is definitely no “one-sound-fits-all.”
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Since tinnitus is not actually a disease, but rather a symptom of something wrong with the auditory system, it makes sense that tinnitus and hearing loss share a lot of overlap. Many tinnitus sufferers also have some degree of hearing loss, most often due to aging or exposure to loud noises. Presbycusis, or natural age-related hearing loss, tends to occur around the age of 60 and is usually accompanied by tinnitus. Prolonged exposure to high-volume sounds also results in hearing loss and tinnitus in many cases, whether it’s due to heavy equipment, blaring music or firearms. The number one service-related disability among American veterans is tinnitus – which is the result of being exposed to explosives and gunfire.
What are Some Auditory Causes of Tinnitus?
In many instances, tinnitus is caused by a buildup of earwax that touches the eardrum. Many other ear problems are also associated with tinnitus, including middle ear and sinus infections, ear tumors and damage to sensory hair cells within the inner ear. These delicate hair cells can be harmed by loud sounds or certain medications, including select NSAIDs, diuretics, antibiotics and pain relievers.
What are Some Non-Auditory Causes of Tinnitus?
While researchers don’t exactly understand why some lifestyle choices may play a role in the development of tinnitus, they do believe that there is a link. Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, consuming caffeine and aspartame and partaking in other unhealthy habits may provoke the onset of tinnitus. There is also a list of medical conditions unrelated to the auditory system that may lead to tinnitus, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, circulatory problems, diabetes, thyroid issues, allergies, TMJ and many more.
If you or someone you love has tinnitus, it’s important to undergo a full hearing examination with an audiologist to search for signs of hearing loss. Find an Avada location close to you and schedule an appointment today to discuss hearing care options with a certified specialist.
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