Tinnitus is very common. About one in ten adults experience tinnitus.
It is not a disease or illness. It is a symptom generated by the hearing
system in your brain.
What causes tinnitus?
The causes of tinnitus are still not fully known. Here we list some issues
that we do know that it can be linked with.
People often lose some of their hearing as they get older due to “wear and tear” in the inner ear. Tinnitus could be your brain's attempt to fill in the gaps of the sounds you can no longer here. Tinnitus can also be more noticeable, as it is no longer masked by other environmental sounds.
Stress and anxiety
Tinnitus can be more noticeable if you are anxious or stressed.
Exposure to loud noise
The inner ear can be damaged by exposure to loud noise, which can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.
Ear infections, colds, and the flu can cause muffled hearing and tinnitus. The tinnitus will normally be temporary, but it is important to see your doctor who can treat any infection.
Other medical conditions
Tinnitus can occasionally be associated with other medical conditions. It is a good idea to get a medical opinion about your tinnitus in order to rule out these conditions.
Head and neck injury
Be sure to consult your doctor if you have tinnitus following a head or neck injury.
Tinnitus is a potential side effect of some medications. It is a fairly common side effect, and you should not stop taking any medicine without first discussing it with your doctor.
Did you know?
Some people with tinnitus experience sensitivity to certain sounds, or sound in general. This is called hyperacusis. It too is a symptom, not a disease or illness, and it can be overcome. Sometimes people experience an intense emotional reaction to hearing someone chewing, sneezing, clearing their throat etc. This is called misophonia.
What we know from research
Over time, the noises disappear or at least reduce to a bearable level for most people. This is because the brain loses interest and stops checking the signal. This process is called habituation. The length of time this takes varies from person to person – but it does happen. There are techniques available to make tinnitus more manageable. Read more about these techniques in our Tinnitus First Aid Kit here.
Read more about tinnitus
There are many sites offering miracle cures and treatments for tinnitus – most of these will leave you disappointed and considerably poorer. And you will probably come across forums where people’s stories are quite scary and downbeat. What you have to remember is people rarely come back to post when they are out of the crisis. We’d encourage you to focus on positive and reliable sources for ideas and help – such as the ones listed here.
The websites listed below are sources of credible, evidence-based information. Many of the organisations also offer help via email or telephone.