At Stourbridge Hearing Centre we can provide you with essential information regarding the condition of tinnitus, a distressing condition which can affect anyone; it can be more prevalent in those with hearing loss. Although the cause of tinnitus is not known it is generally agreed that a person experiencing tinnitus will often hear noises which seem to be in their ear, both ears, middle of their head or the noise seems to move around. These noises vary in levels and types of sounds experienced from person to person, for example, some hear loud ‘underwater swooshing’ noises, others hear a constant low or high pitched ringing noises or they hear constant whistling. To experience this constant level of unwanted noise in your ears and/or head is tiring and anxiety provoking.
It is currently thought that tinnitus is not a disease in itself but rather a symptom of underlying disease. Tinnitus can result from some type of mental or physical change within the body and although it is often thought to be an ear problem it is generated further up inside the auditory system by the brain itself.
Doctors believe that they may have identified contributing factors to tinnitus. These include types of middle ear infections which can cause hearing loss and glue ear, a condition mainly affecting children. Glue ear is caused by a build-up of fluid in the inner ear, often accompanied by vertigo. People who have sustained a perforated eardrum can experience tinnitus. An eardrum can be perforated as a result of an accident, injury, changes in blood flow, and thyroid disorders; other risk factors include being exposed to very loud noises such as loud machinery, at rock concerts standing by speakers, sudden bangs and listening to music at high volume on headphones.
Although often experienced by older people it is not commonly known that younger people can have tinnitus too. Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus a lot can be done to manage this difficult condition.
Sound Therapy aims to introduce types of pleasant sounds to the person at the same time as they are experiencing tinnitus. These pleasant sounds can be gentle water sounds, a sound generator, a fan whirring or the constant reassuring sound of a ticking clock. This therapy works by helping the person become accustomed to recognise and notice new, pleasant sounds rather than tinnitus noise. Important care practices help to prevent tinnitus including keeping medical equipment used extremely clean. It is advised people should never insert items into their ears themselves as this can cause infections. People should be encouraged to use earplugs or medically approved devices when exposed to sounds from 85 dB and over. Also, individuals working near noisy machinery should take breaks away from the noise. It is essential to look after your hearing so you may have less chance of hearing loss and conditions such as tinnitus in future.
Firstly, counselling is available through doctors/healthcare professionals. This can include undertaking cognitive behavioural therapy which works by helping the individual learn strategies to manage their condition. A consultant or doctor can also refer a person to their ear specialist or audiologist, such as our Audiologist, Ansa, at Stourbridge Hearing Centre, who can advise them whether a hearing aid can help them if they have hearing loss; this in itself can vastly improve tinnitus. Please click on the following link for more information concerning tinnitus and also about our hearing loss services and products.