When we think of auditory health, we will generally automatically think of hearing loss. While hearing loss is perhaps the most prevalent of auditory problems, it’s important to remember that there are other conditions out there that can affect your sense of hearing. So, it’s time to familiarize yourself with them and know how to tackle each should you experience. The better acquainted you are with different conditions, the sooner you can seek help from a professional audiologist if you begin to notice their symptoms in your day to day life. Let’s start out by taking a look at tinnitus. Around 29.7 million people suffer from this condition in the US alone and while it is generally reported to be highly correlated with hearing loss (meaning that many individuals’ symptoms are dealt with in the course of hearing loss treatment), an astounding 44 percent of sufferers note that they have experienced no concurrent conditions. This means that it is often left way too long before being treated. It’s time to change this!

What is tinnitus?

“Tinnitus” is a term that audiologists and medics use to refer to an individual hearing sound in the absence of any external sound. Essentially, when a sufferer is placed in a completely silent space, they will still experience the sensation of hearing something. This something is most often a ringing, a buzzing, a whooshing or a humming sound. For some people, these sounds are continuous. For others, they will come and go. Some people will hear something in both ears, others will only have the sensation of hearing something in one or the other. A rarer form of tinnitus that exists is “musical tinnitus.” otherwise referred to as “musical hallucination.” This is when the individual feels that they can hear some sort of musical sounds rather than a buzzing, humming, whooshing or ringing. It may be a familiar tune or song. However, this tends to be more prevalent in older people with a particular interest in music.

Who is most likely to experience tinnitus?

Unlike hearing loss, which generally affects people as they age, tinnitus can affect almost anyone. It has been reported in individuals of all age groups – from children to young adults to adults to the elderly. While it is more common in people who are already suffering from other auditory issues, it can occur in people with otherwise normal hearing.

How severe is tinnitus?

Experiences of tinnitus vary from one individual to another. While the majority of people who experience tinnitus will be able to get along with their day to day lives while suffering from the condition, there is a small percentage of people who it affects severely.

Detecting tinnitus

There are various people who you can contact if you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus. However, if you want to fast track your diagnosis and treatment process, it is generally best to reach out to an audiologist. This professional is likely to have much more experience working with individuals suffering from tinnitus directly than the average physician will. When being tested for tinnitus, your audiologist may carry out a range of tests to detect symptoms and look for any possible causes for your tinnitus. Some common tests include:

  • An audiological exam: this exam is likely to take place in a soundproof room. You will most likely be asked to wear headphones, which will play specific sounds into your ears (sometimes both ears, sometimes one ear at a time). You will be asked to indicate when you can hear a sound. The results will be compared to test results of individuals of your own age group who do not suffer from auditory problems. The purpose of this test is to rule out different potential causes of tinnitus.
  • Movement tests: Your audiologist may ask you to carry out a variety of movements. They could include clenching your jaw, moving your eyes, moving your neck or moving your arms and legs. This is to help to monitor changes down the line, which may give a clue to the best type of treatment for your tinnitus.

While you may be able to get on with your day to day life while suffering from tinnitus, it is best to consult professionals in order to have the condition diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. For more information, you can reach out to the Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at (920) 969-1768.