Audiology Associates of Westchester - White Plains, NY

Woman with tinnitus trying to muffle the ringing in her ears with a pillow to overcome challenge.

You hear plenty of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic ailments like high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness which has a strong emotional component since it affects so many aspects of a person’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost sounds in both ears. Most folks describe the sound as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing that nobody else can hear.

Tinnitus technically is not an illness but a symptom of an another medical problem like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million individuals in the U.S. deal with on regular basis. The ghost sound will start at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you’re watching a favorite TV series, attempting to read a magazine or listening to a friend tell a terrific story. Tinnitus can act up even once you attempt to get some sleep.

Medical science hasn’t quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer from tinnitus or how it happens. The accepted theory is that the brain creates this noise to counteract the silence that comes with hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing condition. Consider five ways that tinnitus is such a hardship.

1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing

Recent information indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus have increased activity in their limbic system of their mind. The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for emotions. Until this discovery, most doctors believed that individuals with tinnitus were stressed and that’s why they were always so sensitive. This new study indicates there’s far more to it than simple stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus touchy and emotionally frail.

2. Tinnitus is Tough to Explain

How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that don’t exist and not feel crazy once you say it. The incapability to talk about tinnitus is isolating. Even if you are able to tell someone else, it’s not something they truly get unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they may not have the very same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups exist, but that means speaking to a bunch of people that you don’t know about something very personal, so it’s not an attractive choice to most.

3. Tinnitus is Bothersome

Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not turn down or turn off. It’s a distraction that many find debilitating if they are at home or just doing things around work. The ringing shifts your attention making it tough to remain on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a real motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and unworthy.

4. Tinnitus Hinders Sleep

This could be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The ringing tends to amp up when a person is trying to fall asleep. It’s unclear why it worsens at night, but the most plausible explanation is that the silence around you makes it more active. During the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus such as the TV, but you turn everything all off when it’s when you lay down for the night.

Many men and women use a noise machine or a fan at night to help relieve their tinnitus. Just that little bit of ambient noise is enough to get your mind to lower the volume on your tinnitus and allow you to fall asleep.

5. There is No Magic Cure For Tinnitus

Just the idea that tinnitus is something that you have to live with is hard to come to terms with. Though no cure will shut off that ringing permanently, a few things can be done to assist you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s vital to get a proper diagnosis. By way of example, if you hear clicking, perhaps the sound isn’t tinnitus but a sound associated with a jaw problem like TMJ. For many, the cause is a chronic illness that the requires treatment like hypertension.

Many people will discover their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and dealing with that problem relieves the noise they hear. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the amount of sound, so the brain can stop trying to create it to fill up the silence. Hearing loss can also be easy to solve, such as earwax build up. When the physician treats the underlying cause, the tinnitus disappears.

In extreme cases, your physician may try to treat the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help lower the noise, as an example. The doctor may suggest lifestyle changes that should ease the symptoms and make life with tinnitus simple, such as using a noise machine and finding ways to manage anxiety.

Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there is hope. Medical science is learning more every year about how the brain works and ways to make life better for those suffering from tinnitus.

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