Tinnitus Consultation and Management
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound without an external, acoustic source. While it is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can also be described as buzzing, hissing, whistling, static and clicking.
Tinnitus can be an intermittent condition or a constant (ongoing) health concern. Most people experience spontaneous intermittent tinnitus, lasting seconds to minutes. Tinnitus lasting minutes to hours, is common after excessive noise exposure. Constant (chronic) tinnitus is defined as occurring for more than three months.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 15% of the general public—over 50 million Americans—experience some form of tinnitus. Roughly 20 million people struggle with chronic tinnitus, while 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases.
Most patients develop tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss, caused either by age, long-term hearing damage, or trauma to the auditory system. Hearing loss causes less external sound stimuli to reach the brain, making the internal sound seem louder.
There are 2 main types of hearing loss:
- Subjective Tinnitus: Sounds that are perceivable only to the specific patient. Subjective tinnitus is usually traceable to auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss, but can also be caused by an array of other catalysts. More than 99% of all tinnitus reported tinnitus cases are of the subjective variety.
- Objective Tinnitus: Sounds that are audible to other people, as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems. Objective tinnitus is very rare, representing less than 1% of total tinnitus cases.
Causes of Tinnitus
Patients experiencing tinnitus should see their audiologist (hearing healthcare professional) or physician for a full examination.
Causes of Tinnitus
While the majority of people perceive tinnitus as a mild distraction, millions struggle with severe cases of tinnitus that significantly detract from their quality of life.
Tinnitus can be a debilitating condition, that negatively affects a patient’s overall health and social well-being. Even moderate cases can interfere with the ability to work and socialize. People with tinnitus often experience:
- Frequent mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Irritability or frustration
- Poor concentration
- Pain (particularly when tinnitus is accompanied by hyperacusis)