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Do You Suffer From Tinnitus?

Often described as ringing in the ears, tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside the body rather than outside. Several sounds can be heard if you have tinnitus, including:

  • Humming
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Grinding
  • Whistling

You can even hear sounds similar to singing, music or noises that beat in time with your pulse, which is called pulsatile tinnitus.

Tinnitus is often accompanied by hyperacusis, where your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, or you find yourself more sensitive to everyday noise.

Should you be worried about tinnitus?

For many people, tinnitus will come and go, only being a minor annoyance in their lives and it’s rarely the sign of an underlying condition.

Having said that, some people will suffer continuous tinnitus, which has a serious impact on people’s lives, affecting concentration and leading to both insomnia and depression.

In the vast majority of cases, tinnitus gradually gets better over time, but if you are suffering from tinnitus, it’s best to go and see a doctor to make sure there’s no underlying cause and to get treatment.

What causes tinnitus?

  • Inner ear damage due to loud music or noises
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Build up of ear wax
  • Ear infections

Tinnitus can either develop gradually or occur suddenly, usually with some level of hearing loss, but not everyone has an obvious problem with their hearing.

When should you get medical help?

If you constantly or regularly hear buzzing, ringing or humming, you should go and speak to your GP. They will examine your ears and make sure you don’t have an ear infection or earwax build-up, both conditions easily treated. They may also do checks to see if you’ve suffered hearing loss. Your GP will sometimes refer you to a specialist for more tests.

How to prevent tinnitus

  • Protect your ears- exposure to loud noises will damage your auditory nerve, one of the main causes of tinnitus and hearing loss. Musicians and people who work with loud machinery should always use forms of ear protection.
  • Lower the volume- Amplified music with no ear protection, or high volume headphones are other common ways to develop tinnitus. Always use ear plugs at gigs and consider lowering the volume of your music.
  • Keep healthy- Exercise and healthy eating will keep your blood vessels healthy, preventing tinnitus due to blood vessel related problems.

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