4 Signs You May Have Tinnitus
Do you often find yourself hearing ringing or whistling noises even when there’s no cause for them in your surroundings? This noise can be uncomfortable and disruptive to your long-term well-being. You might not realize its effects, but when it becomes constant, the noise can impact your daily routine, conversations, and overall comfort.
Tinnitus can be disruptive and uncomfortable, especially when it’s indicative of a hearing health problem. Are you tired of this constant ringing or whistling noise — that no one else seems to hear? You are not alone and there are ways to reduce your suffering.
More People Have Tinnitus Than You May Think
Tinnitus isn’t a novel phenomenon or rare condition — chances are, you’ve already experienced it before – as almost everyone has – after exposure to loud noise. The phantom ringing, whistling, or buzzing sounds seem to come from one ear or both, inside the head, or even from a distance and can occur continuously or intermittently, steadily or pulsating.
Short, temporary bouts of tinnitus can be triggered in loud environments — like at a concert — and by certain medications like aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs in high doses. This type of tinnitus will usually go away on its own.
Tinnitus treatment becomes necessary when the condition is chronic, such as if it persists for more than six months. It’s even more important for people over the age of 55 and experiencing hearing loss. While tinnitus isn’t a sign of hearing loss, it can still be uncomfortable and distracting, especially when someone is already having difficulty hearing and needs to exert extra effort to focus on important sounds.
Common Tinnitus Sounds
What do you hear when you have tinnitus? Most patients who have sought tinnitus treatment report common symptoms, such as phantom sounds or noises that don’t exist because they don’t have an external source. Here are some of the typical ‘sounds’ people report.
This can be caused by muscle contractions in and around the ear that can be heard in bursts.
2. Rushing or humming
These fluctuating tones are caused by vascular movements, such as exercising or lying down and standing up.
Also known as pulsatile tinnitus, the amplified heartbeat sound is caused by high blood pressure, aneurysm or tumour, or even blockages in the ear canal, which need to be treated.
4. Ear problems
Stiff inner ear bones, earwax, and foreign bodies in the ear canal that rub against the eardrum can trigger tinnitus.
5. Low-pitched ringing
This can be triggered by Meniere’s disease, which amplifies the feeling that your surroundings are spinning.
6. High-pitched ringing and buzzing
This is caused by exposure to loud noise and trauma to the ears and acoustic neuroma, all of which result in permanent tinnitus due to long-term exposure or age-related hearing loss.
Common Signs You Have Tinnitus
Are your tinnitus symptoms consistent with the most common sources or phantom noises? Tinnitus is not only caused by these common stimuli and the symptoms can be a combination of the above or another type of noise. What’s important to know is that no two symptoms are alike — the type of phantom noise often varies between patients. Tinnitus is indicated if you are the only one hearing the ringing, buzzing, or whistling.
1. You hear a constant ringing
The most common sign of tinnitus is ringing in the ears, but this symptom spans a range of phantom noises. Other patients report hearing whistling or buzzing sounds, especially after exposure to extremely loud environments.
2. You hear music when it’s not playing
It may feel like music appears out of nowhere; spontaneous creativity from the heavens. Unfortunately, if you hear music even when it’s not playing, it’s probably a sign of a specific type of tinnitus known as musical hallucinations. Musical hallucinations often go undetected because they can occur while patients are watching TV or walking around, so they assume that they merely hear background music.
3. There is thumping in your ears
Anyone who’s ever felt nervous or anxious understands your heart can beat so much that you can hear it. But this thumping shouldn’t be constant — if it is, it could be a sign of pulsatile tinnitus, which indicates an underlying problem with your blood pressure and blood vessels. An easy way to check for it is if the thumping is synced with your heartbeat, like a bass guitar continually playing.
4. Your hearing has changed
While tinnitus isn’t directly a sign of hearing loss, changes in your hearing ability can indicate tinnitus. Tinnitus can directly affect a person’s ability to hear and become overly sensitive to loud or high-pitched sounds. This results in a reduced ability to hear or focus on important sounds. For some, this is temporary after exposure to loud noises or due to particular medication. Still, if it persists for several months, it’s best to get diagnosed and treated for tinnitus.
While there’s no magic cure for tinnitus, various therapies can help manage the symptoms and prevent tinnitus from progressing to extreme discomfort. Tinnitus treatment can include addressing underlying health problems, behavioural or retraining therapies, masking devices or hearing aids that offer a tinnitus program which sends specific sounds into the ear to nullify the ringing. Finding the best treatment for your symptoms, depends on the severity of your tinnitus, along with addressing other underlying causes.