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Tinnitus Facts

Tinnitus Facts

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn't a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.

Various Types of Tinnitus

Tinnitus can vary a lot between individuals; therefore you can find many different types of tinnitus. Tinnitus varies considerably in intensity and type. Some people describe tinnitus as high-frequency whistling sounds while others perceive tinnitus as a buzzing noise or a sound similar to butter sizzling in a frying pan. But some experience, instead, a thumping sound in the same rhythm as their heartbeat. This is called pulsatile tinnitus.

What Causes Tinnitus?

A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can "leak" random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus. Other causes of tinnitus include other ear problems, chronic health conditions, and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain.

What are the Symptoms of Tinnitus?

Tinnitus involves the annoying sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. Tinnitus symptoms include these types of phantom noises in your ears:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

The phantom noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it can interfere with your ability to concentrate or hear actual sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go.

Various Facts about Tinnitus

  • Though tinnitus is associated with hearing loss, this may not always be the case
  • 13 million Americans report tinnitus symptoms without hearing loss, of those with the condition, 40% experience tinnitus throughout 80% of their day
  • At least 30 million Americans suffer from tinnitus
  • Around 1 in 4 sufferers report tinnitus symptoms as loud, while 1 in 5 report them as nearly disabling
  • 27% of people aged 65 to 84 experience symptoms of tinnitus

Although improving one's wellness will not stop tinnitus, it can limit the intensity and provide immense physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Exercise, healthy eating, good sleep habits, smoking cessation, recreational and social activities, and stress management and relaxation techniques are things a person can consider to achieve optimum wellness. If you suffer from any type of tinnitus, make sure to endorse a healthy lifestyle in order to make the situation a little better.