Have you ever struggled through a long, stressful day, full of conversations and noise, just to get into bed and find that you still can’t find peace and quiet? That buzzing sound in your ears is not coming from the neighbor’s house or from something inside your house. It is in fact tinnitus and is ringing inside your own head. How do you know for sure when your tinnitus is a problem and not just a small inconvenience?
What Causes Tinnitus?
The National Center for Health Statistics studies reports that tinnitus affects an estimated 32 percent of the U.S. population. They note that tinnitus is more likely to affect those who are hearing impaired by 70 to 80%. This means that you are not alone in this issue, especially if you also struggle with hearing loss. By now most of us understand that tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing, swooshing or roar in the ears that has no external source, but how and why does it happen?
Tinnitus and Hearing Loss
While there is no solid answer as to what causes tinnitus, because it’s prevalent in the hearing impaired, many doctors suspect that it is linked to inner ear damage. The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural, which is caused when the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear are damaged due to noise, impact, certain medications, advanced age and more. When these hair cells are damaged or destroyed, they cannot deliver certain tones or pitches to the brain to be processed, making it difficult to follow conversation and making people less aware of sound in their environment. Damage to the hair-like cells also is what many suspects causes tinnitus. Have you ever been to a loud concert or sporting event and left with ringing ears? This represents that you have actually sustained some damage to your inner ears. Many believe that tinnitus is a sort of feedback sent to the brain by the damaged cells of the inner ear.
How to know if you have tinnitus
It is estimated that 1 in 5 people have tinnitus. If you have ringing in your ears every now and then there is not much to worry about but as we age or experience more hearing loss it is common for the effects to become worse. It can be hard to know when you have a problem however because tinnitus happens in your head. There are however quizzes available to help you diagnose if tinnitus has begun to be a significant issue that needs to be addressed.
First and foremost, if you hear sounds that are not externally present which sound like a ringing roar click chirp or whistle then it may be tinnitus. There are many ways to describe the sound it differs for each individual. There are sound samples available however to help you know for sure if the sounds you hear are classified as tinnitus on a wider scale.
Frequency of Symptoms
Everyone has tinnitus every now and then. It can be caused by loud noise, atmospheric pressure, or an illness. If the effects are not lasting, then there is not much to worry about, and treatment is not necessary. However, if the symptoms do not clear up and continue for six months or more, then you are most likely dealing with chronic tinnitus. While the effects of tinnitus, themselves are not immediately dangerous, the physiological effects such as stress brought on by the condition can cause stress, anxiety and sleep issues. If sleep becomes regularly disrupted this could escalate into problems concentrating during the day and being less alert due to interrupted sleep.
Effects of Chronic Tinnitus
How does your chronic tinnitus affect you? Asking yourself specific questions about your tinnitus can determine the importance of treatment. For instance
- “Does your tinnitus interfere with your enjoyment of life? “
- “Does it make it hard to sleep or relax?”
- “Does your tinnitus make you feel irritated and short-tempered?”
- Most importantly, “do you feel like your tinnitus bothers you at least 50% of your working hours?”
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it is worth your time to pursue treatment for your tinnitus.
To find out the best treatment for your tinnitus, a hearing test is needed. Each person’s experience with tinnitus is different so we will help you find the best option for you. To find out more, schedule a hearing test today and don’t let your tinnitus stress you out any longer.