Have you ever experienced small, humming, hissing or other sounds that no one else around you seems to hear – and you wonder if you do it in your mind? The truth is you probably don't imagine things. But you may have tinnitus, which is when you hear sounds or feelings in your ears even if there is no noise outside.
Tinnitus is a fairly common phenomenon affecting about 50 million Americans, which represents about 15% of the country's population. It is defined as "the perception of a sound that is not objectively measurable," according to Dr. Douglas Hildrew, otolaryngologist at Yale Medicine.
To some extent, it is perfectly normal to hear sounds that others do not.
A certain noise level in the ears or head is actually normal ̵
The problem comes when you hear these sounds in an environment that is not completely silent and they start to interfere with your daily life. For some, the sounds can be associated with anxiety and depression, Hildrew said.
How to tell if you are experiencing Tinnitus
If you are experiencing tinnitus you may hear the sound, high pitched tones, whistles, whistling, humming, pulsating or other sounds, but the specific experience varies from person to person. to person. The noise can come and go or be constant, and it can be either temporary or permanent. Some people even listen to music even when nothing is played, Hildrew said.
For some, these sounds can be heard in loud environments – for example, a restaurant – while others can get tinnitus at any time, whether quiet or noisy. To determine if you have tinnitus, a doctor or audiologist will usually conduct a comprehensive hearing examination. Sometimes doctors also perform imaging tests such as CT scans, motion tests and questionnaires to see how tinnitus affects your life.
Tinnitus is not a condition – instead, doctors refer to it as a symptom that signals a problem with your body's auditory system. Usually tinnitus occurs due to damage to the ear.
"The way your brain basically gives the feeling is to create a noise that is not objectively real, but subjectively is quite real," Hildrew said.
While tinnitus may be short-lived or harmless to some people, it can be life-altering for others because of the mental, physical, and cognitive tolls it can take. Just think for a moment how distracting, frustrating and potentially isolating it would be to constantly hear a loud tone or buzz and not be able to do anything about it.
"The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss," Sa Reisacher said, regardless of whether it lasts in the short or long term. Other conditions that may also cause tinnitus include migraine headaches, trauma and muscle tightness.
Some people experience tinnitus related to sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when there is damage to the inner ear.This more permanent form of hearing loss is often age-related, but it can also be due to trauma or exposure to loud noises.Tinnitus is actually the highest service-related disability among veterans. to manage this form of hearing loss and related tinnitus, but they are not always effective.
Other people may experience tinnitus as a result of conductive hearing loss or when sound cannot penetrate your outer and middle ear to your inner ear. infections, fluid in the ears n or ear wax that is stuck in the ear canal. Usually, this form of hearing loss and all related tinnitus can be treated with medication, hearing aids, surgery or other medical procedures, such as earwax extraction.
What can be done to treat Tinnitus
"But if no treatment is available, another sound in the environment, such as natural sounds or white noise, known as" masking ", can be used. Helps distract a person from listening to their tinnitus in silent settings," added Reisacher.
Some hearing aids now include these tinnitus masking features.
"It's a program that provides a background noise that prevents their brain from focusing on the tinnitus," Hildrew said. "So it doesn't remove it, but it helps a lot."
There are ways to handle and According to the American Tinnitus Association, a common recommended treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to improve the patient's overall quality of life.
Other treatments include audio therapy, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and maintenance of activities that you enjoy. to treat associated anxiety and depression.
Reisacher recommended seeing an otolaryngologist if your tinnitus becomes constant, does not resolve within two weeks, or is accompanied by additional symptoms, such as hearing loss.
What you do not want to do is ignore tinnitus in the hope that it will disappear, as this is a situation d s time is essential. The month or even the first few days after experiencing a sudden change in your hearing is a critical window in which doctors often can make a meaningful intervention, said Hildrew.
"Often it doesn't happen because people try and [stay] get through it," he said.
There is no way to ensure that you will never experience tinnitus, but it is a good idea to keep yourself It can be as simple as seeing a local audiologist every year for a hearing test. These tests are important for two reasons: detecting any problems and establishing baseline hearing data that may be useful in the future. Without this basic information, " It is a real challenge to know how much is the latest hearing change and how much is historical, "Hildrew said.
Also, it is good to go to concerts and listen to music through headphones, but there is a sure way to do that as well as an unsafe way, he added.
A clear sign that you're causing injury, Hildrew said, is if your ears feel full and ring a little after you've been exposed to loud noises. also recommended avoiding exposure to long-lasting noises, using hearing protectors when needed, and keeping fingers and Q-tips away from your ears.