Introduction to Tinnitus
It’s a bird – it’s a plane – no, it’s tinnitus. The phantom sounds of a whoosh, roar, crackle, whistle, or a “ringing in the ears” is known as tinnitus. This condition, in which there is a perception of sound without an external stimulus, might come and go irregularly, or it might be a long-lasting condition that is debilitating in everyday life. Whatever the case, it is reportedly one of the most common health conditions, with an estimated 45 million Americans experiencing tinnitus and 2 million with chronic tinnitus (US Centers for Disease Control). There are two kinds of tinnitus: subjective and objective.
For individuals experiencing subjective tinnitus, the sounds are only perceived by them. Subjective tinnitus could be linked to hearing loss, when cells within the inner ear are damaged or elements of the auditory system are genetically malformed. At the same time, subjective tinnitus might be caused by other medical conditions. According to the American Tinnitus Association, 99% of tinnitus cases are subjective.
As for objective tinnitus, sounds experienced by individuals suffering from this form are also heard by people who are in close proximity. During a check-up, a doctor might hear the same sounds experienced by a patient with objective tinnitus. In this case, objective tinnitus is generally related to issues located in circulatory or muscular-skeletal functions. High blood pressure, for example, is one potential cause for objective tinnitus.
It is agreed by the medical community that there is no definitive cause for tinnitus. However, potential causes include age-related hearing loss, earwax blockage, exposure to loud noises, and changes in inner ear bone structure. Smokers have a higher risk for developing tinnitus, due to the increase in blood pressure linked to smoking. There have also been reported cases in which certain antibiotics cause tinnitus. In certain cases, tinnitus is symptomatic of greater issues, such as Meniere’s disease (a problem with the balance of inner ear fluids), temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders (a misalignment of the lower jawbone and the skull near the ear area), head/neck injuries that affect brain function and inner ear nerve cells, or benign tumors that affect areas of the brain which control auditory functions.
While tinnitus varies in frequency and degree among individuals, it is a life-altering condition. Those who experience a constant noise may suffer from sleep deprivation, lack of concentration, depression, stress, and anxiety. For those who experience a less frequent ringing of the ears, the unpredictable occurrence of this phantom sound might be distracting, stressful, and harmful.
With no conclusive cause for tinnitus, hearing professionals have not determined a cure-all for this condition. However, audiologists are able to hone in certain lifestyle and medical factors that may be linked to tinnitus. With hearing tests and an examination, audiologist may be able to determine potential causes from the level and frequency of sounds. For some cases, a change in lifestyle or medical treatment (earwax removal, surgery, etc.) may help individuals with tinnitus. In cases where tinnitus is linked to hearing loss, acquiring a hearing aid may offer relief. Many hearing aids offer tinnitus-specific technologies that alleviate the internal sounds and amplify sounds in your surroundings to improve your hearing.
Products to Help With Tinnitus
Tinnitus relief at your fingertips!
The ReSound Relief app is one of the most useful hearing aid apps in the market for relieving and managing tinnitus. As part of a tinnitus management program, the ReSound Relief app offers a combination of sound therapy, relaxing exercises, meditation and guidance, whenever you want and wherever you are.
Widex ZEN Tinnitus Therapy
Widex Zen Therapy is a comprehensive tinnitus management program. The Widex Zen Therapy program was created to ensure that tinnitus does not negatively impact your quality of life and has been doing so since 2012.