Experts highlight how Tinnitus hearing loss amongst a younger population could be avoided with a simple check-up.
There are more than six million people in the UK who experience tinnitus (noise in their ears or head and about 30% of people will experience Tinnitus at some point in their life) yet most people are unaware that the symptom could be a sign of loss of hearing. Tinnitus hearing loss is a chronic condition that can be controlled.
Mr Jeremy Lavy of Highgate Private Hospital, England, explains more about the condition including whether it could be the sign of something more serious and whether it can be treated
What do you know about Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common condition, with 1 in 10 adults in the UK reported to be affected.
The condition is the perception of sound when there is no sound present. It can affect one or both ears and can occur on its own or associated with other ear conditions most notably hearing loss. An individual may hear different types of sound, for example, ringing, whooshing, a humming or a buzzing in the ear. It can be continuous, or it may come and go. Some people may think the noise is coming from outside and even look for it around them and others say that the sounds have a musical quality and can seem like a familiar tune or song. This can occur in older people who have a hearing loss and a strong musical interest.
Whilst Tinnitus is more common in patients with hearing loss or other ear problems, the symptom can be experienced by both men and women at any age group, but it can also be found in people with normal hearing. Some people find it moderately annoying whilst others find it very hard to live with.
What causes Tinnitus hearing loss?
It’s not always clear what triggers tinnitus, but it’s often linked with some form of hearing loss which can be caused by the effects of an external sound. When we hear, sound travels into the ear and then the hearing nerves take the signals to the brain. The brain is then responsible for putting it all together and making sense of the sound.
As the ears are unaware of what is important and what’s not, they send a lot of information to the brain. This is too much information for us to process, therefore the brain filters out unnecessary ‘activity’ and background sound, such as clocks ticking or traffic noise. Tinnitus can be linked with conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders or multiple sclerosis, anxiety or depression.
Can it be treated?
Individuals experiencing Tinnitus hearing loss are recommended to consult an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon who will rule out any medical factors, assess hearing and probably give some information about what tinnitus is and how best to manage it. Some hospitals have hearing therapists or specially trained audiologists who are available to offer more support if required.
Most people find that their tinnitus does seems to settle down after this initial period, even without doing anything in particular. However, if Tinnitus is associated with hearing loss than an ENT specialist will look into the cause of hearing loss to determine whether further treatment is necessary.