Can you hear a whistling, buzzing, ringing or hissing in your ears? It could be tinnitus – a condition that affects as many as 30% of people at some point in their lives.
Tinnitus is very common and people of all ages can get it, including young children. People with hearing loss or other problems with their ears are more likely to experience tinnitus but it can also affect people with normal hearing.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term used to describe any sound that a person can hear that isn’t present in their external environment.
Tinnitus comes from the Latin word “tin-r-ray”, meaning to ring. However, tinnitus doesn’t always sound like ringing in the ears and is often described as buzzing, grinding, sizzling, hissing and a number of other different noises.
Often, people assume that tinnitus is just one consistent noise. The reality, however, is that many people hear several different noises which can vary quite significantly. Some people even report hearing as many as seven or eight different noises. It’s this variability of the different noises that often causes distress.
Tinnitus can be treated in many ways at home. The aim of tinnitus treatment is not to make the noise disappear. Instead, rather making the noise easier to cope with.
There are many things that you can do to help deal with tinnitus at home, including music, apps, and meditation.
Tinnitus symptoms can be eased with sound therapy. This distracts the brain from the tinnitus and helps you focus on other noise instead. Medicspot has curated a playlist of relaxing music and sounds to help unwind and distract you from the sounds of tinnitus. You can listen to the full playlist on Medicspot’s tinnitus guide.
When to see a GP
It is important to see a GP if you start suffering from tinnitus so they can look in your ears and rule out an infection or other similar cause.
If your tinnitus is getting worse you should see a GP. If you’re finding that you get tinnitus regularly or if it’s affecting your sleep or concentration, getting advice from a GP can help.
You should also see your GP if your tinnitus is only on one side or a lot louder on one side than the other. They may need to do some tests if this is the case to make sure nothing else is going on.
See a GP urgently if you have tinnitus after a head injury. Sudden loss of hearing, weak facial muscles or vertigo are also worrying signs to look out for. You should also see a GP urgently if you hear tinnitus that beats in time with your pulse.