So, you have a noise in your head? It can be scary at first and you may even be looking around your house or office for the source of it, not recognizing it’s coming from within your head! Well, let me ease your mind. That noise in your head is called tinnitus and is a very common diagnosis. It is typically a symptom of hearing loss, but can have other causes, such as occluding ear wax, reduced blood flow, even a side effect from medication. It’s estimated to affect at least 1 in 5 people today.
Tinnitus is a perceived constant and annoying sound in your ears, or head, such as buzzing, ringing, crickets, or a high pitched tea pot whistle, when there is no outer sound. Depending on the cause of the tinnitus the good news is that in most cases resolving the underlying problem can lessen the effects of your tinnitus.
There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is diagnosed when the noise you hear in your ears or head is audible to only you. Objective tinnitus is diagnosed when the noise in your ears or head can be heard by someone else.
Most cases of tinnitus are subjective. Recent research suggests that inner ear damage to the cellular hairs which transport and translate sound to the brain may be the culprit of most cases of tinnitus. In other words, you may have hearing loss.
Poor blood flow and disorders can also cause tinnitus, this is called pulsatile tinnitus. High blood pressure, head or neck tumors, high cholesterol and capillary malformation can also cause pulsatile tinnitus.
Tinnitus can greatly affect your relationships, ability to communicate and overall quality of life. Those with tinnitus also report higher rates of anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, and memory concerns. If you or a family member or friend has tinnitus ‘think hearing’ and get a hearing health check as the first step in helping to reduce/minimize and even eliminate that annoying noise!