Have you been noticing a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears? You’ve asked your friends if they can hear it, but everyone says it’s just in your head. Are you worried that you’re going crazy? Don’t stress, what you’re experiencing is tinnitus, and these sounds you hear when everything around you is quiet is a condition that affects millions of people around the world.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is hearing a sound in your brain in the absence of any external sounds. It can be a ringing, whistling, buzzing, humming, roaring, or hissing sound, and everyone experiences tinnitus a little bit differently. Tinnitus can be very quiet or can be so loud that it interferes with your ability to concentrate on other things. It can be high or low pitched, and can be present in one or both ears. It can also change over time, or even from day to day, and it won’t always be exactly the same. Around 15 – 20% of Americans have tinnitus, and many of these people also experience hearing loss.
Does Tinnitus Cause Hearing Loss?
While tinnitus and hearing loss are often comorbid conditions, one does not cause the other. Rather, both tinnitus and hearing loss have the same cause, so it’s not surprising they often show up together. Hearing loss is usually caused by damage to the delicate cells of the inner ear. These hair cells can be damaged by excessively loud noise, by illness or infection, or by the normal wear and tear your body experiences as it ages. When these hair cells are damaged, some of the sound waves hitting your ear aren’t detected, and no signal is sent from the ear to the brain to tell your brain about this sound. You experience this as hearing loss.
Tinnitus is caused by those same cells that have been damaged. Even though the cells aren’t sensing the sound waves around you, they do still fire sometimes, sending random electrical signals up to your brain when none of the other cells are receiving sound input for the environment. This is why tinnitus is most common when you’re in a quiet place. As your hearing loss worsens, or as more cells are damaged, your tinnitus will get worse as well, and this is why you may have believed that tinnitus causes hearing loss.
Sadly, there is no cure for tinnitus, or for hearing loss. Once the cells in your ear have been damaged, they can’t be restored. However, treating tinnitus and hearing loss is very effective, and with the right treatment, you will hardly even notice your tinnitus. Living with untreated tinnitus will make your experience of it far worse, and there’s a negative cycle around tinnitus and stress. The more tinnitus you experience, the more you’ll be stressed, and this will impact your ability to focus on tasks and get a good night’s sleep. The more stressed your feel, the worse your tinnitus will be, which will just make you more stressed!
Treating Tinnitus with Hearing Aids
The best treatment option for tinnitus is to wear hearing aids with tinnitus therapy programs. Since hearing loss and tinnitus often go hand in hand, treating your hearing loss, and helping the cells in your ear hear all the sounds around you, will go a long way towards minimizing your tinnitus.
Sound therapy programs in modern hearing aids will give you relief from your tinnitus symptoms. These programs work to mask tinnitus by playing white noise, pink noise, or even music that will fade tinnitus into the background. You’ll be able to go about your day without stressing about your tinnitus, and get a good night’s sleep at night.
My Hearing Centers
Tinnitus can have a huge impact on your life, making you stressed, irritable, moody, and tired. Treating tinnitus and hearing loss will restore your quality of life, reduce your anxiety, and let you get back to more important things. At My Hearing Centers, we have a wide selection of hearing devices with sound therapy programs, and we’ll make sure the program is calibrated to match your unique experience of tinnitus. Don’t keep living with tinnitus and hearing loss, but come visit us today and stop that ringing or buzzing from interfering with your life.