Ringing, buzzing, hissing or humming … regardless of the type of sound, if you’re hearing a constant and annoying noise in one or both ears you may be dealing with tinnitus.
“Tinnitus is the common term for experiencing noises in one or both ears that are not being caused by external sounds,” explains Jennifer Hutchingame, from Hear Right Canada Lacombe.
“Tinnitus can be very emotionally and physically draining – so much so that those suffering may struggle with their normal day-to-day activities. For many, this can lead to desperation for relief, and buying products unlikely to provide relief from their symptoms,” Hutchingame says. “It’s always best to consult a hearing professional or physician when experiencing medical symptoms.”
Common Causes of Tinnitus:
- Hearing loss.The tiny, delicate hair cells (cochlea) inside your inner ear can become bent or broken – common with age or reoccurring exposure to loud sounds. The cells then mis-fire electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.
- Ear infection or ear canal blockage. Ear canals can become blocked with a buildup of fluid (ear infection), ear wax, dirt or other foreign material which can change the pressure in the ear, causing tinnitus.
- Head or neck injuries. Head or neck trauma can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Such injuries usually cause tinnitus in only one ear.
- Medications. Certain medications may cause or worsen tinnitus, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and certain antibiotics, cancer drugs, water pills (diuretics), antimalarial drugs and antidepressants. However it’s essential to never stop your medication abruptly and always discuss stopping/changing medication with your doctor!
Complications from tinnitus can include: fatigue; stress; sleep problems; trouble concentrating; memory problems; depression; anxiety and irritability; headaches; and challenges with work and family life.
Tinnitus is often a symptom that accompanies a bigger issue, and because of this, there’s no known cure-all for tinnitus. There are, however, several treatments and therapy options. In some cases if there is an underlying cause that can be resolved, the tinnitus may go away or be greatly improved, Hutchingame says.
It’s best to book a hearing evaluation to best determine your individual needs and potential course of therapies or treatment that may work best for you.
Many clinics like Hear Right Canada offer complimentary consultations and medical referrals.
Read more from Hear Right Canada, Lacombe: Pump up the volume? It could be a cause – and sign – of early hearing loss