Ringing, buzzing, crickets, you name it, if other people do not hear it, it is called Tinnitus.
Estimates are that 12 to 14% of the adult population has tinnitus. About 1% have really debillitating tinnitus. For most people tinnitus comes and goes and is not overly bothersome. But, for some it can be relentless and extremely aggravating.
Almost all people with tinnitus also have hearing loss which is why the first step towards management is to have a hearing test.
Among people with age related hearing loss (presbycusis) 42% have tinnitus.
For those with hearing loss due to noise trauma, 22% experience tinnitus.
Combat soldiers have a 50% rate of tinnitus.
Among deaf people, 55% report tinnitus.
One theory for the cause of tinnitus is that the brain is overcompensating for the lack of sound caused by hearing loss. This is similar to phantom limb syndrome where the brain “feels” pain in a limb no longer there.
When tinnitus and hearing loss are both present, the use of hearing aids can be very helpful. The hearing aids turn up quiet environmental sounds which counteracts the overcompensation of the brain. This often reduces the volume and/or annoyance of tinnitus.
Some people experience relief from sound generators or tinnitus maskers. Deaf people wearing cochlear implants often report relief as well.
If you experience tinnitus and have been told you must “learn to live with it” please contact us for further information about tinnitus management. Help is available!