Tinnitus is when you experience ringing or other noises in one or both of your ears. The noise you hear when you have tinnitus isn’t caused by an external sound, and other people usually can’t hear it. Tinnitus is a common problem. It affects about 15% to 20% of people and is especially common in older adults.
Causes of tinnitus
It’s not always clear what causes tinnitus, but it’s often linked to:
- Some form of hearing loss
- Ménière’s disease
- Conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders or multiple sclerosis
- Anxiety or depression
- Taking certain medicines – tinnitus can be a side effect of some chemotherapy medicines, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)and aspirin.
How to check if you have tinnitus
Tinnitus can sound like:
- Music or singing
You may hear these sounds in one or both ears, or in your head. They may come and go, or you might hear them all the time.
Things you can try to help cope with tinnitus
- Try to relax – deep breathingor yoga may help
- Try to find ways to improve your sleep, such as sticking to a bedtime routine or cutting down on caffeine
- Try to avoid things that can make tinnitus worse, such as stress or loud background noises
- Try self-help books or self-help techniques to help you cope better from the British Tinnitus Association (BTA)
- Join a support group – talking to other people with tinnitus may help you cope
- Do not have total silence – listening to soft music or sounds (called sound therapy) may distract you from the tinnitus
- Do not focus on it, as this can make it worse – hobbies and activities may take your mind off it
RNID also has a free helpline on 0808 808 0123.
Treatments for tinnitus
If the cause of your tinnitus is unknown or cannot be treated, your GP or specialist may refer you for a type of talking therapy.
This could be:
- Tinnitus counselling – to help you learn about your tinnitus and find ways of coping with it
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – to change the way you think about your tinnitus and reduce anxiety
- Tinnitus retraining therapy – using sound therapy to retrain your brain to tune out and be less aware of the tinnitus
If tinnitus is causing you hearing loss, hearing aids may be recommended.
f you’re having problems with your ears, nose or throat, a private ENT specialist consultant can assess and diagnose your condition, as well as advising you on the best possible treatments and diagnostics. At Pall Mall, we offer private ENT appointments and services. Click here for more information or call us on 0161 3940310.