Have you ever wondered if kids experience tinnitus? That ringing or buzzing sound can be extremely annoying, affect your concentration, and even make it harder to sleep. Adults with hearing loss often have tinnitus, but what about kids? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a phantom sound that only you can hear. The sound isn’t coming from the external environment, it starts in your ears. No, it’s not a sign you’re going crazy. It just means that your ears and brain aren’t working together as well as before.
Tinnitus can be a ringing, buzzing, whistling, humming, or screeching sound. Each person experiences tinnitus differently. It can be loud or soft. You may hear it in a high pitch or a low pitch. And tinnitus can be either temporary or permanent. It may be a constant noise you can never escape, or it may come and go throughout the day or the week.
Tinnitus can be in one ear or both ears. It’s usually caused by hearing loss, an ear injury, an ear infection, a buildup of earwax in the ear canal, or other damage to the ear or auditory system.
Tinnitus in Children
A recent study from Poland took a closer look at tinnitus in children. They found that 3.1% of school-aged kids may experience tinnitus. However, tinnitus was a lot more common in kids with hearing loss. Among children with hearing loss, 9% had tinnitus.
The researchers set out to collect as much data as possible. They talked to over 43,000 kids and their parents. The children were all ages 11 to 13 and they all took a hearing test.
It’s hard to determine just how many kids have tinnitus. Children usually don’t know about tinnitus, and they might not complain about their tinnitus. Just like kids don’t realize they have some vision loss or hearing loss, they may not recognize tinnitus or know how to talk about it. That’s why the researchers also talked to parents. Very few parents knew their kids had tinnitus. Only 1.4% of parents knew about their child’s tinnitus.
Ask Your Kids About Tinnitus
Both adults and children can experience tinnitus. But unlike adults, children might not realize that they’re experiencing tinnitus. It’s important to ask your kids about their hearing health. This is a great way to make sure they’re hearing clearly. You can also ask them about their experience of tinnitus. For example, you can ask them if they hear any buzzing or ringing noise when everything around them is quiet.
In the study, researchers asked kids if they heard any squeaks or whistles when it’s quiet, or when they’re falling asleep at night. They also asked if they heard these sounds all the time, sometimes for a few minutes, or only for a short time.
Your kids might not tell you about tinnitus on their own, so it’s important to ask them if they’ve ever heard tinnitus sounds. If they identify tinnitus, it’s time to visit a hearing health specialist for a more thorough assessment.
If you or someone in your family has tinnitus, we can help. You have several treatment options:
- Earwax removal: Sometimes tinnitus is caused by a build-up of earwax in the ear canal. When you visit us for a hearing test, we’ll check your ear canals and make sure your ear canal is open. We’ll also look for signs of damage that could cause hearing loss or tinnitus.
- Treating an ear infection: Tinnitus can also be caused by an ear infection in the outer or middle ear. Treating an ear infection, usually with antibiotics, will clear up the infection and may reduce tinnitus.
- White noise machine: sometimes the best way to manage tinnitus is by blocking the tinnitus sounds. A white noise machine can play a sound that masks tinnitus. This makes the tinnitus fade into the background, so you can fall asleep without worrying about the tinnitus sounds.
- Hearing aids: For a personalized tinnitus management program, find out more about your hearing aids options. Your hearing aids can produce a continuous, low-level sound, such as white noise or nature sounds, that will mask the tinnitus symptoms wherever you are.
Visit us for more tinnitus treatment options for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!