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When you hear but don’t understand

When Should You See a Professional About Tinnitus?

Woman with tinnitus in need of professional hearing care.

Tinnitus is also known as ringing in the ears. When you experience tinnitus, you hear noises, typically with no external source. In many cases, treatment is not required for tinnitus, but if your symptoms are getting worse or more frequent, it’s wise to seek advice. 

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a term used to describe hearing phantom sounds, which are not generated by an external outlet, for example, a radio or a car engine. When you have tinnitus, you may be able to hear noises even in a silent room. Tinnitus is commonly referred to as ringing in the ears, but it can cause you to hear a whole range of sounds, including:

  • Buzzing
  • Humming
  • Whooshing
  • Hissing

In the majority of cases, tinnitus is a temporary problem, which is linked to exposure to loud noises. It’s very common, for example, to have ringing and buzzing sounds in your ears when you’ve been to a concert and you’ve been dancing and singing along to a band, a DJ, or a singer. Many people will go to bed with noise in their ears and then wake up as normal in the morning without a trace of any external sound. 

What are the effects of tinnitus?

Many people experience short-term, temporary bouts of tinnitus, which don’t typically cause any major problems. In this case, tinnitus may be unpleasant, but it won’t have any long-term impact on your health, wellbeing or impair your hearing. If you have tinnitus symptoms on a regular basis or your symptoms are getting worse, the effects are likely to be more severe. You might find it difficult to concentrate and focus, tinnitus may affect your mental health, and you may find that there is an impact on your hearing. Sometimes, people suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus, and hearing loss is only detected through tests that are conducted to determine possible causes of tinnitus. 

When should you see a professional about tinnitus?

Often, tinnitus is associated with exposure to high levels of noise, and symptoms subside after a period of time. If you have prolonged spells of symptoms, your symptoms are affecting your day to day life, you have trouble hearing, or the signs are getting worse, it’s a good idea to seek professional advice. It’s also essential to seek help if you develop tinnitus after a head injury or if you experience sudden hearing loss. 

What can be done for tinnitus?

There are various treatments and therapies that can be used to try and alleviate or put a stop to tinnitus symptoms. Often, the first step is to try and determine a cause. In some cases, tinnitus and hearing loss are linked. If you suffer from hearing loss, you might find that the symptoms of tinnitus are exacerbated, as you can’t hear noises that would mask sounds related to tinnitus. Consequently, this means that the ringing and humming noises appear louder. If hearing loss is detected, a hearing instrument specialist may recommend using hearing aids. Hearing aids are small, discreet devices, which are designed to make noises louder so that you can hear them better. Many people who have tinnitus find that their symptoms become less noticeable when they have a hearing aid. Additionally, hearing aids can be equipped with masking features, which help to block out the distracting noises.

Another option, which may prove beneficial, is using a sound machine. Sound machines generate low levels of background noise, which can help to distract the individual from tinnitus symptoms. This kind of therapy is particularly beneficial for those who struggle to sleep at night as a result of tinnitus. When it’s quiet, the buzzing and whooshing noises can appear much louder, and this makes it difficult to get to sleep. Tinnitus retraining therapy is another form of treatment that can alleviate symptoms. This type of sound therapy aims to train the brain to switch off and become less aware of tinnitus symptoms. 

If you find that you tend to develop tinnitus when you go out to a club, or you watch a band, you can protect your ears by avoiding standing close to the speakers and wearing earplugs that enable you to hear the music without putting your ears at risk. It’s also hugely beneficial to use ear defenders or plugs if you work in a noisy environment. 

Tinnitus is often a short-term problem, but in some cases, it can be a long-term issue that has an impact on day-to-day life. If you’re struggling with tinnitus, or you have concerns about your hearing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ears 2 Hear on Surfside Beach 843-213-1593 or Florence 843-665-8688.