The American Tinnitus Association defines the condition (which can be pronounced either tin-NYE-tus or TIN-ni-tus) as hearing sounds that no one else can hear. It is a condition that seems to be related to age (most cases appear after the age of 50), and is much more common in men than in women. An estimated 50 million Americans have tinnitus; for some reason more of them in the South than other parts of the country.
There are several types of tinnitus, and there are many different sounds that those with the condition tend to hear. Subjective tinnitus is the most common, and is defined as the person hearing sounds that no one else can hear; objective tinnitus is much more rare, and is indicated when a doctor or audiologist can also detect these sounds. Other less common types of tinnitus include 1) hearing low-frequency sounds, often mistaken for being actual sounds in the environment, 2) pulsatile tinnitus, in which the person hears rhythmic beats in time with their pulse, and 3) musical hallucinations, or hearing music that is not really present.
The most common symptom of tinnitus is a persistent, almost-always present, high-pitched ringing noise in one or both ears. This symptom may also be experienced as a buzzing, hissing, roaring, whistling, or clicking sound, one that can change in both pitch (frequency) and amplitude (loudness). Mild tinnitus can be masked by every day sounds and while it may appear tinnitus comes and goes for some sufferers it’s important to know that the condition may only be heard in less noisy environments. Some people experience their tinnitus as related to their posture; for example, it is more present when they are lying or sitting down than when they’re standing. Although for most people tinnitus is more a nuisance than anything else, for some it has severe repercussions: they may suffer increased levels of stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Interruptions in sleep or concentration are often found in many of these severe cases. Our hearing specialists are here to diagnose and design a treatment plan for those suffering from tinnitus. This begins with an easy and painless hearing test and examination. Tinnitus can be a warning sign of diseases like high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and Meniere’s disease. If any of these symptoms describe your situation please make an appointment to see us today.