Robby Young's Hearing Aid Center - Coachella Valley, CA

Woman with tinnitus trying to muffle the ringing in her ears with a pillow to overcome challenge.

You hear a lot of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic ailments such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but what about tinnitus? It is a chronic illness which has a strong psychological element since it affects so many areas of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as phantom noises in one or both ears. Most people describe the sound as hissing, clicking, buzzing, or ringing that nobody else can hear.

Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an underlying medical issue like hearing loss and something that over 50 million individuals in the U.S. deal with on a day to day basis. The ghost sound will start at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV show, attempting to read a book or listening to a friend tell a terrific story. Tinnitus can flare up even once you try to go to sleep.

Medical science has not quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer from tinnitus or how it occurs. The accepted theory is that the mind creates this sound to counteract the silence that accompanies hearing loss. Whatever the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing condition. Consider five reasons tinnitus is such a challenge.

1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing

Recent research indicates that people who experience tinnitus have more activity in their limbic system of their mind. This system is the part of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until this discovery, most doctors thought that people with tinnitus were worried and that is why they were always so emotional. This new research indicates there’s much more to it than simple stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus touchy and emotionally frail.

2. Tinnitus is Tough to Discuss

How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that they can’t hear and not feel crazy once you say it. The failure to talk about tinnitus causes a disconnect. Even if you could tell someone else, it’s not something that they truly understand unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they might not have exactly the same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but it means speaking to a bunch of people you aren’t comfortable with about something very personal, so it’s not an appealing option to most.

3. Tinnitus is Annoying

Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not turn down or shut off. It is a distraction that many find disabling if they are at the office or just doing things around the house. The noise shifts your attention which makes it hard to remain on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, which makes you feel lethargic and unworthy.

4. Tinnitus Blocks Rest

This could be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The ringing will get worse when a person is trying to fall asleep. It is not certain why it increases at night, but the most plausible reason is that the lack of sounds around you makes it worse. During the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus such as the TV, but you turn everything all off when it’s time for bed.

A lot of men and women use a noise machine or a fan at night to help relieve their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background noise is enough to get your brain to reduce the volume on the tinnitus and permit you to get some sleep.

5. There is No Magic Cure For Tinnitus

Just the concept that tinnitus is something that you must live with is tough to come to terms with. Although no cure will stop that ringing for good, there are things can be done to assist you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s critical to get a proper diagnosis. By way of instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the noise isn’t tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem like TMJ. For some, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like hypertension.

Many people will find their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and coping with that problem relieves the noise they hear. Getting a hearing aid means an increase in the amount of sound, so the brain can stop trying to create some sound to fill in the silence. Hearing loss may also be easy to solve, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying cause, the tinnitus dulls.

In extreme cases, your specialist may attempt to reduce the tinnitus medically. Tricyclic antidepressants may help reduce the noise, for instance. The doctor can provide you with lifestyle changes that should ease the symptoms and make life with tinnitus more tolerable, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to handle stress.

Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there is hope. Medical science is learning more every year about how the brain works and ways to make life better for those suffering from tinnitus.

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