Maria

Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus): What it is

It is a condition which is related to hearing loss.

However, it can have many causes, including exposure to loud noise, aging, ear infections, and injury.

It can also be experienced as hissing, roaring, or buzzing sounds. While there is no direct cure for ringing in the ears, there are several ways that you can reduce the impact it has on your quality of life.

Take a free hearing test at your nearest HearingLife clinic to find out whether you are experiencing tinnitus or hearing loss.

Our online test can help you test for tinnitus and understand what you can do about it if you have tinnitus/hearing loss.

Take the online tinnitus test Book your FREE appointment

Tinnitus Quiz Image-with Maria

Online Tinnitus Test

People with this condition often experience hearing loss too. Our quick online test can help you test for tinnitus and understand what you can do about it if you have tinnitus/hearing loss.

Question 1 - Experiencing ringing or buzzing noises
Do you ever experience ringing or buzzing sounds in your ear(s) when no external sound is present?
Do you ever have trouble falling asleep or concentrating due to any ringing or buzzing sounds in your ear(s)?
Do you ever have trouble following conversations because you don’t hear properly?
Do you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or radio louder than normal?

Your result:

Indications of tinnitus and hearing loss

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss. We recommend that you visit one of our clinics. There are hearing aids that can treat your hearing loss and might give you relief from your tinnitus.*

Book a FREE hearing test in a clinic near you

Book FREE hearing test

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our certified hearing care experts.

Your result:

Indications of hearing loss

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of hearing loss but no symptoms of tinnitus. We recommend that you visit one of our clinics to to see if you have a hearing loss that should be treated.*

Book a FREE hearing test in a clinic near you

Book FREE hearing test

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our certified hearing care experts.

Your result:

Symptoms of tinnitus indicated

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of tinnitus. We recommend that you read about tinnitus treatment options to learn about how to cope with and find relief from tinnitus symptoms.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our certified hearing care experts.

Your result:

No tinnitus or hearing loss indicated

Your answers indicate that you do not have tinnitus - or that you have non-bothersome tinnitus that is not currently affecting your everyday life. If you experience symptoms of tinnitus in the future, we recommend visiting your local health care provider.

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our certified hearing care experts.

Step 1 of 6

What causes tinnitus?

There are many possible causes. The most common cause is damage to the sensory cells in the cochlea. This is the snail shell-like organ in the inner ear where sounds are converted into electrical signals. The ringing in your ears is the result of your brain trying to compensate for the loss of hair cells.

The auditory nerve, responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain, plays a crucial role in our hearing abilities. When this nerve is affected, it can result in side effects such as tinnitus.

One common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises over time. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can damage the delicate structures in the ear, including the auditory nerve.

Damage to the hair cells here can also cause hearing loss.

Common causes of ringing in the ears include:

  1. Exposure to loud noise
  2. The natural aging process
  3. Middle-ear infections
  4. Anxiety and stress
  5. Diabetes
  6. Negative reactions to medicines
  7. Neck or head injuries
  8. Hyperacusis (intolerance to noise)
  9. Earwax build-up
  10. Inflamed blood vessels around the ear
  11. Other untreated medical conditions such as Ménière's disease, Otitis (a middle-ear infection), etc.

 Should you take a hearing test?

 

Types of tinnitus

It can generally be divided into two types of physical conditions: subjective and objective.

Subjective Tinnitus

The most common form of is subjective. This type involves you hearing annoying whistling/buzzing/high-pitched noises that aren’t really there.

Objective Tinnitus

This type is a rarer form of this condition where your blood vessels or muscles are making noises that are loud enough for you to hear. Your doctor may be able to hear it during your hearing test.

Take the online tinnitus test Book your FREE appointment

Tinnitus treatment and prevention

There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are many ways you can manage it and reduce its impact on your life. The following management techniques can be rather effective in turning a potentially negative and emotionally charged sound into a neutral presence.

Illustration of man doing yoga
Relaxation and mindfulness
Yoga and meditation have been proven to be particularly effective in relieving tinnitus
Illustration of man with headphones
Sound therapy
Can help reduce the contrast between tinnitus and quiet environments
Illustration of shield with an ear
Hearing protection gear
Protection (such as earplugs) can help prevent further hearing damage caused by loud noise
Illustration of hearing aid
Hearing aids
Can make your tinnitus stand out less by amplifying sounds. Some devices have built-in sound generators


Understanding Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus can be a sign of a serious medical condition, and anyone experiencing it should consult their healthcare professional. 

It is a unique form of tinnitus characterized by rhythmic sounds resembling one's heartbeat, can be an unsettling experience. While relatively rare, this condition occurs due to various factors, often involving disruptions in blood flow around the ear and auditory system. At HearingLife, we are committed to providing comprehensive and effective strategies to help you reduce pulsatile tinnitus and experience long-term relief.

Exploring Relaxation Techniques for Reducing Pulsatile Tinnitus

In rare cases of pulsatile tinnitus, underlying issues related to blood flow and circulation may contribute to the condition. By integrating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, you can potentially alleviate symptoms and improve your overall well-being. These techniques work by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and indirectly influencing blood flow patterns. Here are some relaxation techniques to consider:

Deep Breathing Exercises: Practicing deep breathing can help calm your nervous system, reducing stress and promoting healthy blood flow. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of six. Repeat this several times, allowing your body to relax with each breath.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves holding and then gradually releasing different muscle groups in your body. Starting from your toes and moving up to your head, you'll release tension and promote relaxation throughout your body.

Meditation and Mindfulness: Engaging in meditation or mindfulness exercises can help you become more aware of your body and sensations. These practices can reduce stress and potentially improve blood flow over the long term.

Yoga and Tai Chi: These gentle forms of exercise combine movement, breath, and mindfulness, contributing to relaxation and improved circulation.

Long-Term Benefits of Relaxation Techniques

While relaxation techniques may not directly target the underlying causes of pulsatile tinnitus, they can play a significant role in managing the condition and promoting long-term relief. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, you may experience a decrease in the intensity and frequency of pulsatile tinnitus episodes. Additionally, improved overall well-being and reduced stress levels can contribute to better blood flow and circulation, which may indirectly impact the condition.

Consulting a Professional

If you are experiencing pulsatile tinnitus, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional, such as an audiologist or an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). They can conduct a thorough evaluation to identify any underlying causes and recommend appropriate treatment options. It's important to note that while relaxation techniques can be beneficial, they should be used in conjunction with medical guidance for optimal results.

Sound therapy can provide relief from ringing in the ears

Although sound therapy cannot eliminate this, it can be a helpful tool for managing the symptoms. With sound therapy, you listen to different, carefully selected sounds, which can help you feel that your tinnitus is reduced or temporarily gone.

It then becomes easier to hold your attention away from your condition. Plus, it helps you focus on something more pleasant. You can find the sound therapy that gives you the most effective relief from ringing in the ears by working together with your hearing care professional.

Sound therapy can be provided through:

  • Tinnitus masking sound generator devices
  • Apps for tinnitus relief
  • Sound and sleep apps
  • Hearing aids with tinnitus sound therapy features

Take the online tinnitus test Book your FREE appointment

Image shows two hearing aids next to the sea

Do Hearing Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?

You may be wondering, do hearing aids help with tinnitus? Are there hearing aids for tinnitus? Or can a hearing aid stop tinnitus? In many cases, wearing one of these devices can reduce the symptoms of this condition often to a level where those suffering from tinnitus are barely able to hear it. Hearing aids are capable of controlling several elements of your hearing, thanks to innovations in hearing aid technology. With various brands and styles, a solution from your hearing care professional is likely available to those suffering from tinnitus symptoms.

Hearing cars driving by, drops of rain, and footsteps more clearly can help filter out or even cover up the ringing or buzzing. Some hearing aids also have Bluetooth capabilities or white noise options, so you can listen to some kind of sound no matter the time of day. With your brain stimulated by these noises, it can help reteach your mind which signals to deliver and which ones to ignore.

One of the main complications of living with tinnitus is stress, which can cause your condition to flare up, becoming increasingly difficult to manage. As a result, you’ll likely be left frustrated and fatigued. Wearing hearing aids can reduce your stress levels as you will not be missing out on communication and everyday sounds, thereby feeling more in control of your sensory experience.

Since tinnitus can also affect your sleep because the sound you hear may be increasingly difficult to ignore at night, learning to live day-to-day with hearing aids may help lessen its impact in the evening. It is recommended you remove your hearing aids before going to bed for safety purposes, but your brain may learn to quiet these noises since its ability to do is being stretched and flexed during the daytime. You’ll also likely be more engaged in everyday activities, enjoy a profound sense of calmness, and may notice sounds you have not experienced in a long time.

It is important to note that hearing aids are not a cure for tinnitus. They can only provide auditory stimulation to help with the uncomfortable symptoms of this condition

Image shows woman with red blush in her head holding her hands to her forehead

Consequences of untreated tinnitus

Some tinnitus sufferers become sensitive to places with constant talking or loud music, so they begin to avoid such social situations altogether. To others, it is so disturbing that a full night’s sleep can become difficult to achieve. Tinnitus, if left untreated, can lead to the following consequences:

  • Anger
  • Concentration problems
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to places with constant talking or loud music
  • Sleep disorder, insomnia

Some people are able to ignore their condition most of the time, but leaving it untreated can have a negative impact on your life if it is experienced over extended periods of time.

FAQ about tinnitus

Sources

1. Al-Swiahb, J., & Park, S. N. (2016). Characterization of tinnitus in different age groups: A retrospective review. Noise & health, 18(83), 214–219. https://doi.org/10.4103/1463-1741.189240

2. Beck D.L. (2012) British Academy of Audiology. Podium presentation.

3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321093#how-does-noise-damage-occur

4. https://tinnitus.org.uk/support-for-you/what-can-i-do/relaxation/