Often described as a woosh, hiss or ringing sound, tinnitus is the perception of sounds even when there is no external noise present. Known to affect a considerable number of people in the population (1), tinnitus doesn’t have a single cause and is experienced by each person differently. Main causes of tinnitus include:
What can make tinnitus worse?
Research has found sometimes diet can impact the severity and duration of tinnitus. Anything from alcohol and cheese to too much salt or sugar in your diet can affect certain people. By monitoring your tinnitus as well as what your eating patterns are, you may notice a trend in certain foods effecting your tinnitus more than others.
Stress/anxiety and fatigue are commonly known to make tinnitus worse; relaxation and resting can often reduce the intensity of tinnitus.
Exposure to loud noises (eg music, machinery, factory work) can not only result in heightened tinnitus, but can also do damage to your permanent hearing. The use of hearing protection such as ear plugs or muffs can reduce the impact noise has on your hearing system.
Certain medications can either result in the development of tinnitus or can make existing tinnitus worse. Consult your medical practitioner or specialist to determine if anything can be done about this.
Treatment options for tinnitus vary depending on the cause of the tinnitus. Hearing devices can assist in reducing the severity of tinnitus associated with a hearing loss while tinnitus maskers or noise generators can help distract the listener from focusing on it. If the tinnitus is due to a treatable medical cause, often medical management by an Ear Nose Throat specialist is recommended. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a method which aims to teach the brain to ignore the tinnitus through the use of psychological training and a device. Intervention by a trained psychologist may be required in cases were a person’s tinnitus has become distressing to them (cognitive behavioral therapy).
For more information, you can visit the Australian Tinnitus Association at http://www.tinnitus.asn.au/. Having some concerns with your tinnitus? Come and arrange an appointment to speak with one of our audiologists or ENT surgeon.