Tinnitus is a fairly common medical condition characterized by the perception of a persistent ringing, buzzing, whistling or clicking sound in the ears. This annoying hearing sensation that persists with no external sound present affects approximately 15% of the general population. There is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning this condition; contrary to popular belief, Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of another underlying medical or physical issue. Sufferers should consult an audiologist when the Tinnitus is bothersome, if it occurs suddenly without apparent cause, and/ or if it is accompanied by hearing loss or dizziness.
The symptom of Tinnitus are frequently age-related or the cause of noise-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus is most commonly a sensorineural reaction, in the brain, to any type of damage of the auditory system. Sensorineural essentially relates to aspects of sense perception that is mediated by the nerves, thus the brain interprets nerve signals as sound. There is a specific type of hearing loss called Sensorineural Hearing Loss, which is typically the result of damage to or disease of the inner ear or auditory nerve. Possible causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss include: exposure to loud noises or explosions; genetic hearing loss; trauma to the head; various illnesses; malformation of the inner ear; or natural aging process.
While this sensorineural reaction is the most common cause, including injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in the ear or hearing center in the brain, Tinnitus may also be caused by any blockages in the ear canal. Tinnitus affects people differently, and additional complications arising from this condition may include fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep problems and trouble concentrating.
While there is no cure for Tinnitus, it can improve greatly with treatment. A full examination including diagnostic testing often determines the underlying cause of symptoms, and various treatments are available to alleviate the perception of tinnitus. Following an examination, the audiologist or hearing aid specialist will recommend a personal treatment plan that may include special hearing aids, sound therapy or changes in diet and medications.