Tinnitus is a debilitating condition that causes you to hear a constant noise coming from within your ears. Tinnitus sounds may vary for each person, and may continue for months, years, or just sporadically. It’s difficult to describe exactly what tinnitus sounds like, because the pitch, volume, and sound type may be different for each person.
The Sounds of Tinnitus
Several years ago, Jack A. Vernon, Ph.D., founder of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) recorded 5-minute audio sessions demonstrating the various sounds that are often associated with tinnitus. Although not a complete list- there about a dozen noises that are linked with tinnitus symptoms- it does help people recognize some of the basic warning signs.
The following is a list of some of the most common words used by tinnitus sufferers when asked to explain what tinnitus sounds like:
Ringing (most common)
Is tinnitus a hearing problem?
Amazingly, no; in most cases, tinnitus occurs when the nerve cells of the inner ear become damaged in some way. Loud music, proximity to firearms, constant loud machinery, frequent ear infections, and ototoxic medications can destroy the delicately thin hair-like cilia of the inner ear.
As a result, your remaining nerve cells have to work harder to compensate for cell death, and your brain misinterprets excitability as noise that isn’t really there.
And that’s exactly what tinnitus is…noise that doesn’t really exist.
So, tinnitus isn’t a hearing problem, and nor is it a mental problem. Usually, tinnitus is a neurological breakdown of the cells that communicate with the brain in interpreting sound.
Rarely, tinnitus sounds are comorbid to an underlying condition, such as a blocked artery or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).
How is tinnitus treated?
There is no actual “cure for tinnitus,” but if you know what’s causing your tinnitus, then you are one step closer to managing it more effectively.
To find out if tinnitus sounds are caused by high blood pressure, you may try cutting back on salt, while also taking natural vitamins, minerals, and herbs that support healthy vascular functioning.
If you suspect that certain medications like NSAID’s, antidepressants, or birth control pills may be causing tinnitus, then ask your doctor about potential substitutes, while also taking healthy B vitamins that support your nerve cells.
If you work in a constantly loud environment, such as a job shop or construction site, then wear good ear protection, and supplement with antioxidants that kill free radicals.
To temporarily quiet tinnitus sounds, listen to white noise recordings on a set of volume-controlled headphones, play soft background music while at work, or fall asleep to the drone of a ceiling fan.
Most of all, try not to think about tinnitus. The more time spent actively ignoring tinnitus sounds, the better your chances of eventually forgetting they exist.
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