Lake Hearing

Tinnitus is a condition characterised by the perception of sound in the ears or head without any external source. It is often described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, or clicking sound and can range in severity from a mild annoyance to a debilitating condition. Tinnitus is estimated to affect around two-thirds of the population in Australia, making it one of the most common health conditions. While it can affect anyone, it is more prevalent in older individuals and those who have been exposed to loud noises for prolonged periods, such as musicians, military personnel, and construction workers. Tinnitus can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as hearing loss, ear infections, or even stress.

The exact cause of tinnitus is still not fully understood, but it is believed to be a result of damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells are responsible for translating sound vibrations into electrical signals that the brain can interpret as sound. When they are damaged, they can send random electrical signals to the brain, resulting in the perception of sound. This can be a temporary issue, such as after attending a loud concert, or it can be a chronic condition. Tinnitus can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, causing sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and even depression and anxiety. There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but there are various treatments available to help manage the symptoms.

These can include sound therapy, where external sounds are used to mask the ringing or buzzing in the ears, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and even certain medications. It is essential for those experiencing tinnitus to seek medical help and explore different treatment options to find what works best for them. While tinnitus can be a challenging condition to live with, with the right management techniques, it is possible to lead a fulfilling and enjoyable life.

Tinnitus is most common in people with hearing loss

“About 70-85% of people with hearing loss suffer from tinnitus. That’s why a hearing test is always a good start in diagnosing and treatment of tinnitus. Tinnitus is very common and about 90% of the population will experience it, in various degrees and severities at some stage of their lives.”  To learn more about tinnitus and what other support and treatments are available visit Tinnitus Australia.” 

Some other causes of tinnitus are:

Medications, aging, neurological disorders, injuries to the head and neck area, degeneration of bones in the middle ear, Upper respiratory infections or jaw popping joint (TMJ) disorders, stress and anxiety, blood vessel disorders, acoustic neuroma, muscle spasms in the middle ear, Meniere’s disease and earwax blockage 

Sound Based Treatments

Sound based treatments for tinnitus have been found to be most effective when incorporated into a comprehensive treatment plan. While these treatments may not completely eliminate tinnitus, they can significantly reduce its impact on daily life. By using certain sounds, such as white noise or nature sounds, tinnitus sufferers can experience relief from the constant ringing or buzzing in their ears. This masking effect can provide a temporary break from the annoyance and disruption caused by tinnitus, allowing for better concentration and improved sleep.

Hearing aids 

Hearing aids have been proven to be an essential tool in the treatment of tinnitus. They are highly effective in not only improve hearing and communication, but also provide relief from the symptoms of tinnitus. Devices can be programmed with a variety of sounds such as white noise, ocean sounds, or even customised sounds to match the individual’s tinnitus pitch and frequency. With the right hearing aid and support from a hearing care professional, tinnitus can be successfully managed and its impact minimised.

Ear-Level Masking Devices 

These devices are worn in the ear similar to a hearing devices, but are for people who do not have a hearing loss. Masking devices are usually worn short term and are designed to provide relief from tinnitus by masking the ringing or buzzing sounds with a more pleasant noise. 

Environmental Noise Generators 

Environmental noise generators are an effective, but temporary option for managing tinnitus, as they provide a non-invasive and non-medicated solution. They are not wearable devices and can assist in times when tinnitus is interfering with sleep, concentration or relaxation. The masking noise can be generated through devices such as a pillow-speaker, fans, headphones, or smart phones using apps. 

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