Tinnitus is very common and estimated to affect approximately one in three Australians.
Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound in the absence of an external sound source. Tinnitus can manifest as a variety of different sounds; however, it is commonly described as ringing, buzzing, or whooshing, present in the ears or head.
Causes of tinnitus
There is no single identifiable cause for tinnitus however, there are many conditions it is commonly associated with. Hearing loss of any degree is the most recognised caused of tinnitus.
When there is a hearing loss, the brain is deprived of the external stimulation it requires. To compensate, your brain searches for sound internally picking up on internal neural activity, interpreting these sounds as significant and labels them tinnitus. The brain perceives the tinnitus as threatening and then begins paying more attention to it.
Hearing aids can reduce the impact of tinnitus. They do this by improving your brain’s ability to hear sounds and reducing your level of stress when trying to listen to sounds, which can make the tinnitus less noticeable.
Another condition commonly associated with tinnitus is stress. Both emotional and physical stress are known to trigger tinnitus. The inverse relationship is also true, the greater the amount of stress you are under, the more you aware of your tinnitus.
It is important to note that tinnitus is not usually a sign of anything medically concerning.
When to see a Lions Hearing Clinic Audiologist
Tinnitus distress is very common and therefore it is important to differentiate the population who experience tinnitus from those who are distressed by tinnitus. For many people, it can be debilitating and has a significant impact on their quality of life causing concentration difficulties, sleep disturbance, avoidance of quiet or loud noises and difficulty relaxing.
If you relate to any of the above, our dedicated team of tinnitus audiologists would like to meet with you. They will develop a personalised management program specific to your individual circumstances, helping to reduce the negative impact the tinnitus has on your quality of life.
Take this quick quiz to see if you need to have a tinnitus appointment. If you answer yes – we will contact you to get a better perspective of how your tinnitus is affecting you, then arrange an appointment with a specialist tinnitus audiologist. But if you didn’t answer yes, but you are still suffering, we would recommend you start your hearing journey with a hearing assessment that can determine the best pathway for you.
What to Expect at the Tinnitus and Hearing Assessment
Your appointment will begin with your audiologist working through your completed questionnaires and conducting a detailed case history. The subjective tinnitus measures help your audiologist thoroughly understand the impact your tinnitus has on you, your significant others and your lifestyle.
You will then be guided through a comprehensive hearing assessment to assess the function of the hearing pathway as well as additional measures specific to your tinnitus. Using the cross-check principle between the assessments, our audiologists can identify gaps in your hearing and potential contributing factors that may be maintaining your tinnitus awareness which may correlate with the quality and nature of your tinnitus.
Once the assessment is completed your audiologist will work through the results with you. The discussion involves education and counselling on the mechanisms of your tinnitus and you are provided with strategies to help reduce your level of tinnitus distress.
Lions hearing clinic takes a very holistic approach to tinnitus management and this may include a referral to our partnered tinnitus psychologists.
Strategies to support you in the interim
It is very common for tinnitus to be more intrusive in quiet environments. Many individuals with distressing tinnitus experience some degree of sleep disturbance. By introducing sound into your environment, you are actively reducing the contrast between the tinnitus and the silence and therefore the tinnitus is less stark. It is also recommended you engage in activities that you enjoy and this untimely reduces your levels of stress.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
A) we want to stress the importance that whilst the tinnitus may not be completely eliminated, habituation is a process that can and routinely does occur with appropriate management. Therefore, the impact on your quality can be greatly reduced.
Can your audiologist measure my tinnitus?
A) Our audiologists are trained to evaluate your tinnitus through a comprehensive audiological assessment and subjective measurement. They use an evidenced-based approach to tinnitus management.