It’s still a somewhat enigmatic disorder, but tinnitus is a well-known phenomenon in the world of audiology.
The symptom and condition of tinnitus are one and the same — a persistent “hearing” of a sound that is not occurring outside of the hearer’s head. Which is not to say it’s not there. That’s the problem.
Usually, it takes the form of a high-range ringing sound, though other noises have been known to occur. Whatever sound is being experienced, it’s most definitely being heard by the person who has tinnitus—persistently and without pause. The condition can be temporary or, more disturbingly, permanent. It’s often associated with prolonged exposure to loud noise (it’s an ailment common not unknown to aging rock stars).
It is not all that rare. About 15 percent of Americans, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, will experience a bout of tinnitus at some point during their lifetime. There’s even an American Tinnitus Association that leads education and research efforts for the ailment.
Though there is no cure for it, there are management strategies. These include:
- Avoiding silent environments, which can make it harder to ignore. Background noise makes the sound a less prominent part of one’s consciousness.
- Avoiding loud sound environments (and use ear protection if they can’t be avoided).
- Techniques for relaxation such as breathing exercises.
- Keeping a journal of diet and activities and noting when the tinnitus flares up. It’s been found that, for some sufferers, the condition is tied to specific types of behavior.
The first step — if you or someone you know is experiencing tinnitus — is to consult with a hearing professional and explore whether there’s an underlying health problem causing it. Contact us today!