How Does Tinnitus Relate to Hearing Loss?
Millions of people across Canada are affected by tinnitus, causing them to be exposed to unpleasant sounds and noises that no one else can hear.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus occurs when you are consciously able to hear sounds that are not generated from outside the body. These sounds can vary considerably from person to person, and can be chronic or fleeting, light or severe.
Potential Symptoms of Tinnitus
People report a wide range of auditory sensations due to tinnitus, and effects might include:
- Steady high-pitched ringing
- Beeps, chirps, or clicking
- Whistling, hissing, or static
- Buzzing, roaring, or humming
- Pulsing or musical beats
- Other continuous or intermittent sounds
Despite tinnitus being a significantly widespread issue, there is a surprising lack of public awareness about it.
Is Tinnitus a disease?
Tinnitus in itself is not an illness, it is generally an indicator of another underlying health condition which may or may not involve hearing loss. Although it is quite often the result of prolonged exposure to loud noises, it may also be a symptom other health problems.
Potential Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus may be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Extensive exposure to loud noises
- Ear and sinus infections
- Excess buildup of wax in the ear canal causing blockages
- Head or neck injuries
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Brain tumors
- Hormonal changes
- Middle ear complications
- Meniere’s disease
- Side effect of medications
- Age-induced hearing loss
Impact of Tinnitus on Daily Living
Depending on the severity of tinnitus it can be debilitating, causing significant impacts on daily routines. Persistent problems with tinnitus may lead to:
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased stress
- Memory issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Quickly becoming irritable or aggravated
- Anxiety and depression
Diagnosis and Treatment for Tinnitus
If you are hearing strange noises or experiencing any of the symptoms listed above it is recommended to seek the assistance of a hearing professional as soon as possible. This will help determine if tinnitus is in fact the issue, and if so provide a clearer picture of the underlying issues contributing to the problem.Some of the questions a hearing professional may address can include:
- How often and how loud are the sounds you are hearing?
- Do you have any other existing health conditions?
- Is there any associated dizziness or jaw pain?
- Have you recently been exposed to any exceptionally loud noises?
- Are you experiencing any hearing loss?
Since there is no actual cure for tinnitus, treatment involves addressing the underlying causes. Some typical treatments may involve:
- Caring for ear infections or removing wax buildup
- Relaxation techniques to minimize effects
- Sound therapy
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
- Counselling and education
- Hearing aids
Hearing Loss Related Tinnitus
If your tinnitus is the result of hearing loss, hearing aids can be a huge help in resolving the issue. Hearing aids can help treat hearing loss related tinnitus in two ways:
- Restoring hearing frequency rang
- Masking undesirable sounds
Restoring Hearing Frequency Range
Hearing aids can help people with hearing loss get back to the normal range of sounds they have been accustomed to hearing. Amplifying impaired sound frequencies can have a direct effect on the symptoms of tinnitus. Even if the hearing aid doesn’t eliminate the sounds caused by tinnitus, it can amplify more pleasant external sounds, so the tinnitus is not so piercing and all-encompassing.
Masking Undesirable Sounds
Many models of modern hearing aids come equipped with tinnitus-masking capabilities to drown out unpleasant sounds with white noise or soothing music depending on the pitch and intensity of your specific tinnitus condition.