Tinnitus: The Sound of Silence

Tinnitus: The Sound of Silence

Tinnitus: The Sound of Silence

Defining Tinnitus

Tinnitus is often referred to as a “ringing in the ears,” but really, it’s the perception of sound without any actual external noise taking place. In addition to a “ringing,” it can also sound like clicking, hissing, buzzing, roaring, whistling, or swooshing. Either in one or both ears, temporary or permanent, tinnitus can be quite loud or very minimal, and the pitch varies from high to low.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Millions of Americans have tinnitus, as it is a symptom that can develop from many things. Exposure to loud noises, ear and sinus infections, ear wax rubbing on the eardrum, hearing loss, heart problems, brain tumors, cancer treatments, hormonal changes in women, thyroid problems, and certain medicines can onset tinnitus.

Treating Tinnitus

Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus, some therapies exist to help minimize the effects. These do depend on the cause, however. If tinnitus is caused by medication, hearing loss, vascular issues, or ear wax, it can usually be improved by changing medications, hearing aids, and removal of the wax. When tinnitus is caused by a virus, acoustic trauma, or sclerosis of the bones of the inner ear, little may be done to help. Using a tone generator or binaural beats to match the pitch of the tinnitus can help individuals adapt and become more accustomed to the frequency, thus reducing a person’s focus on the sound.  

Coping with Tinnitus

Having tinnitus can be frustrating and in some cases, it can affect one’s quality of life. Most individuals with tinnitus either have a mild version of it or use coping mechanisms to eventually adapt and overcome more serious versions of it. Our advice is to:

  • Find relaxation and stress management techniques and practices that you like, whether it’s yoga, massage, or some other method. These help with a lot of things–not just tinnitus.
  • If you must partake in loud activities around the house or lawn, wear earmuffs or earplugs to help avoid worsening the symptom.
  • Play soothing sounds in the background while you’re cooking or sleeping. That could mean the sound of waves, soft music, rain falling, etc.
  • If your particular tinnitus is unable to improve, try your best to accept it as reality and avoid focusing on the levels of it daily. Try to integrate it into your norm.

 

Overcoming tinnitus isn’t just up to you, however. A person with tinnitus needs more support than before. Meaning, they need family and loved ones to be receptive and understanding toward their disability. Being unable to hear certain things and always living with a ringing can make it hard to sleep, work, or even partake in simple conversation. Many feel the need to ask others to repeat themselves, and thus, feel guilty for doing so quite often. Those with tinnitus should receive kindness, patience, and attention when these moments arise, as they are doing their best to still live a normal life. When in groups, speak up, and always look right at someone with tinnitus, so as to help them hear you more clearly.

 

SOURCES:
https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/tinnitus
https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2011/tinnitus-what-happens-when-brains-gatekeeper-breaks-down
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024836/?figure=1
https://medlineplus.gov/tinnitus.html
https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/tinnitus-cure-may-lie-brain
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/tinnitus
Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash