Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

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

You hear a lot of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, but what about tinnitus? It is a chronic illness that has a strong psychological element since it affects so many aspects of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as phantom sounds in one or both ears. Most folks describe the sound as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing that no one else can hear.

Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an another medical problem like hearing loss and something that over 50 million individuals from the U.S. deal with on daily basis. The ghost sound tends to start at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you’re watching a favorite TV series, trying 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 has not quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer with tinnitus or how it happens. The accepted theory is that the mind creates this sound to counteract the silence that comes with hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-altering problem. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a problem.

1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing

Recent information indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus have increased activity in their limbic system of the mind. The limbic system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until this discovery, most specialists believed that people with tinnitus were worried and that is the reason why they were always so emotional. This new research indicates there is far more to it than simple stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus touchy and emotionally sensitive.

2. Tinnitus is Hard to Explain

How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that they can’t hear and not feel crazy once you say it. The inability to talk about tinnitus causes a disconnect. Even if you can tell somebody else, it’s not something they truly can relate to unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they may not have exactly the very same signs of tinnitus as you. Support groups exist, but that means speaking to a lot of people that you don’t know about something very personal, so it’s not an appealing option to most.

3. Tinnitus is Annoying

Imagine trying to write a paper or study with sound in the background that you can’t turn down or turn off. It is a diversion that many find debilitating whether they are at the office or just doing things around the house. The noise changes your focus making it hard to remain on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and worthless.

4. Tinnitus Interferes With Sleep

This is one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The ringing tends to get louder when a person is trying to fall asleep. It is unclear why it increases at night, but the most plausible reason is that the absence of other noises around you makes it worse. During the day, other noises 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 people use a sound machine or a fan at night to help alleviate their tinnitus. Just that little bit of ambient sound is enough to get your mind to lower the volume on the tinnitus and permit you to get some sleep.

5. There’s No Quick Fix For Tinnitus

Just the concept that tinnitus is something that you have to live with is tough to come to terms with. Although no cure will stop that noise permanently, a few things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s critical to get a correct diagnosis. For instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the noise isn’t tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem such as TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like hypertension.

Lots of people will discover their tinnitus is the result of hearing loss and dealing with that issue relieves the buzzing. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the level of sound, so the brain can stop trying to create some sound to fill in the empty spaces. Hearing loss can also be temporary, such as earwax build up. Once the doctor treats the underlying issue, the tinnitus disappears.

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

Tinnitus presents many struggles, but there’s hope. Medical science is learning more every year about how the brain works and strategies to improve life for those struggling with tinnitus.

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