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Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in one or both ears but are not generated by an external source. It is not a condition itself but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Typical tinnitus sounds are:
Although bothersome tinnitus is not usually a sign of something serious. There are two types of tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus only you can hear. It can be caused by problems in the outer ear, middle ear or inner ear. The auditory nerves or the part of the brain that processes sound can also be a cause of tinnitus. Objective tinnitus is a sound that can be heard externally. This is a rarer type of tinnitus and is associated with blood vessels problems, middle ear bone conditions or muscle contractions.
Common Causes of Tinnitus:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Noise exposure
- Otosclerosis of the middle ear bones
Tinnitus can effect some people’s quality of life, interrupting sleep, increasing anxiety, reducing concentration and causing fatigue. It is important to seek advice if you are suffering from tinnitus. There are no specific cures for tinnitus, however a number of treatments are available that can improve quality of life:
- Earwax removal (reduces pressure in the outer ear and allows sounds to reach the hearing nerves)
- Hearing aids (improve the function of the damaged hearing nerves)
- Masking instruments (provide background sounds to reduce the awareness of the disturbing tinnitus sounds
- Counselling ( helps to accept the condition and to focus your attention onto other parts of your life)
- Medical treatment for an infection or middle ear disorder
One of the first steps is to have an assessment of your hearing health. A hearing specialist can examine your ears, test your hearing and provide you with a detailed picture of your hearing health.