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What is Tinnitus?

Posted On: July 14, 2022

Tinnitus is known as the perception of a sound when there is no external sound present. It can commonly be described as a ringing, hissing, whooshing, or buzzing sound that is heard in one, or both ears. Have you heard something like this before? The tinnitus can often fluctuate in volume and frequency. Many will experience tinnitus at some point in their lifetime, however, others experience it more frequently. Symptoms often vary from person to person. Many may only become aware of their tinnitus when in quiet environments (for example, at night going to sleep or when relaxing reading a book). Whereas others hear their tinnitus all the time. Sometimes tinnitus can become intrusive on one’s life and can be linked to anxiety, stress, and increased fatigue.

If you have noticed or are currently experiencing tinnitus, the first step to effective tinnitus treatment is booking in a hearing test at Helix Hearing. Our experienced audiologists at Richmond and Narre Warren will take a detailed case history, thoroughly assess your hearing, provide the possible cause/causes of your tinnitus awareness, and recommend the best treatment steps going forward. It is very important to start your tinnitus treatment journey with a full hearing assessment, as this gives us a clear and accurate picture of the functioning of your hearing system. Should it be needed, further investigation by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist may be recommended.

Although there is no exact “cure” for tinnitus, it can be managed well with numerous management strategies with the purpose of achieving “habituation”. This occurs when the tinnitus may still be heard, but it does not cause distress or have negative affect on day-to-day life. Many will be able to achieve habituation over a period of time.  

What causes tinnitus?

Research has found many causes to tinnitus; it’s not always related to the ear itself! Some common causes include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Noise exposure
  • Temporomandibular (jaw) joint (TMJ) disorder and grinding teeth
  • Spinal or neck injuries
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Viral infections
  • Reduced blood flow to the ear
  • Some medications
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased stress levels

There are also known tinnitus triggers/aggravators which can be unique to each individual. Some of these include:

  • Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Diet changes (eg. increased salt intake)
  • Increased stress and fatigue levels
  • Exposure to excessive noise
  • Change in lifestyle

At Helix Hearing we will work closely with you to ensure you have a better understanding about your tinnitus and ensure your tinnitus treatment is tailored to your specific needs. Tinnitus strategies will be discussed in your appointment, and written information will also be provided.