If you’ve been wearing hearing aids for a while, you’re
All About Tinnitus
Tinnitus refers to the experience of a buzzing, ringing, or clicking like noise in one or both ears. Tinnitus is not a medical condition but is often a symptom of an underlying health issue. According to the CDC, nearly 20 million people suffer from chronic tinnitus and 2 million people have extreme tinnitus. Experienced mildly to severely, it can have a range of effects that significantly impacts daily life. It is important to regularly have health screenings to identify any medical concerns that could contribute to tinnitus. Fortunately, it can be managed effectively by prioritizing health and wellness!
There are several factors that can cause tinnitus which can range from mild to profound. A few common causes include:
- Hearing Loss: impaired hearing is the most common cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss is a pervasive condition that nearly 1 in 5 people experience – it is the third most common chronic health issue. It can be caused by numerous factors: genetic history, loud noise, medical conditions, and aging.
- Loud Noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can cause tinnitus and also lead to hearing loss. Loud noise – sound above 85dB which is the equivalent of busy city traffic – can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. The inner ear is composed of thousands of the cochlea which is filled with fluid and thousands of hair cells that help translate soundwaves into electrical signals for the brain to process (allowing us to understand what we hear). Loud noise can cause these hair cells to lose sensitivity and/or die which can cause tinnitus.
- Medical Conditions: including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension can trigger tinnitus. Certain medications (antidepressants, antibiotics, over the counter medications like aspirin) can also contribute to tinnitus.
- Head Injuries: swelling, bruising, bleeding caused by extreme force to the head and/or neck area can damage parts of the ear that help absorb and process sound.
- Earwax Accumulation: buildup of earwax in the ear canal allows bacteria to accumulate which can lead to infection or irritation. This can also cause tinnitus.
Tips to Manage Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be effectively managed in ways that reduce its impact and alleviates associated symptoms. A few useful tips include:
- Reduce Stress: identifying and reducing stressors can alleviate tinnitus. Find and practice ways to cope with stress like incorporating relaxation activities into daily life. Relaxing your muscles, enhancing breathing, and being calm helps provide relief. Explore activities like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, drawing etc. to discover what works best for you!&nb
- Create Ambient Noise: silent or quiet environments can intensify tinnitus and cause you to focus on it. Creating ambient noise can mask tinnitus and also provide relief. There are numerous ways to create ambient noise including: playing relaxing music, playing the TV quietly, using a white noise machine, using an app to play soft sounds etc.
- Reduce Exposure: reducing the amount and impact of loud noise that you absorb can also minimize tinnitus. You can do this by wearing protective gear like earmuffs, headphones, ear plugs etc.
- Quality Sleep: tinnitus can have a huge impact on sleep which then worsens tinnitus. Try to create the conditions for the best possible sleep by: ensuring your bed is comfortable, adjusting lighting to suit your preference, using essential oils to create a calming environment. Also, it could be useful to establish a night time routine which can include taking a warm shower, disconnecting from electronic devices and screens at least 30 minutes prior to sleeping, and sleeping at the same time every night.
- Exercise: increasing physical activity reduces stress, boosts energy, enhances mood etc. which are all great for minimizing tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be experienced acutely or chronically which can profoundly disrupt daily life. A 2019 study found that nearly 70% of people with tinnitus also experience poor sleep. This lack of quality sleep can lead to sleep disorders like insomnia, which makes it difficult to initiate and/or maintain sleep. This can have numerous effects like fatigue, inability to concentrate, grogginess, and impact mood. Tinnitus can take a toll on mental health and wellness if it is not effectively addressed.