What is Tinnitus?
The word Tinnitus comes from the Latin word for 'ringing' and is the perception of sound in the absence of any corresponding external sound. It is not a disease or illness it is a symptom generated within the auditory system.The noise may be in one or both ears or in the head and it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location. The noise may be low, medium or high pitched. There may be a single noise or two or more sounds. The noise may be continuous, or it may come and go.
Tinnitus is very common and is reported in all age groups even young children. About 30% of people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives, but the number of people who live with persistent tinnitus is approximately 10%. Of those people who have persistent tinnitus, around 1 in 10 will find it has a significant impact on their quality of life. Tinnitus is more common in people who have hearing loss or other ear problems but it can also be found in people with normal hearing.
How can we help?
At Cambridge Hearing advice can be given on helpful strategies for reducing the awareness and distress of tinnitus. For those with hearing loss amplification is very therapeutic. Hearing aids help by reducing the effort you put into listening and by enriching environmental sounds. Hearing aids can also work as tinnitus maskers allowing you to stream all kinds of relaxing sounds or music which can divert your listening away from the sound in your head.
Sound generators are good for quieter times when tinnitus levels tend to increase. These can be connected to a small speaker that you pop under your pillow providing a gentle background sound to help you fall alseep.
Tinnitus and stress are closely linked and some form of relaxation will help. This may be in the form of structured relaxation techniques, yoga, going for a swim or run, having a massage, a walk on the beach - whatever works best for you.
Taking the time to talk about your experience of tinnitus and gaining some understanding of how we think tinnitus works reduces much of the anxiety around what might be causing it. We often recommend a referral to an ENT Consultant for an opinion particularly if the noise is one sided or you have other symptoms.