Tinnitus is a condition that impacts many—learn what it is and how to treat it.
The average adult will experience tinnitus to some extent at some point in their life. This well-known condition has great visibility, but there is still a lack of information and a lot of confusion surrounding it. Many people are unaware of just how common it really is–or what treatment options are available. In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into tinnitus and what you can do to treat it if you have it.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a hearing-associated medical condition that occurs when someone perceives an ongoing or recurring sound that is not actually present. Plainly put, you hear a noise that is not actually there. It is commonly referred to as a “ringing of the ears” and is often associated with some form of ear damage.
Everyone can experience this condition in various ways, and its severity can also vary from one person to another. Despite this, it is a very common condition that can be temporary or considered to be permanent in some cases. Whether or not it is permanent is often dependent upon how effective treatment is for those who develop chronic tinnitus.
How Many People Have Tinnitus?
The exact number of people around the world that have tinnitus is unknown. However, rough estimates say that tinnitus impacts roughly 15% to 20% of all people, which is a fairly significant number. Considering the fact that some tinnitus cases are temporary, the true total number is likely higher.
Duke Health determined that, in America alone, more than 50 million people reported having experienced tinnitus. Another study found tinnitus likely impacts over 750 million people around the globe. Despite these high numbers, many people are still under the impression that tinnitus is not all that common or severe. In reality, it is fairly likely that you will experience it at some point in your life.
What Does Tinnitus “Feel” Like?
The experiences associated with tinnitus change depending on who you ask, though there are many common similarities. The noises associated with tinnitus are their most common symptom, and it is often how its presence is identified. This noise is often considered to be the largest and first symptom to appear.
When a person has tinnitus, they will hear a constant ringing in their ears. What is classified as “ringing” is one area where those with tinnitus differ. It is fairly common for the noise itself to be described in different ways, ranging from ringing to roaring. The distinguishing factor here is that the noise is not actually occurring, even though the body interprets its presence. These phantom noises seem very real to those with tinnitus.
For some, tinnitus is temporary and limited to the ringing sensation. However, for those with chronic tinnitus, other symptoms can occur that will influence how tinnitus feels for you. What starts as an annoying noise can easily turn into notable discomfort or even a tinnitus migraine. With chronic conditions, it is common to experience emotional discomfort as a symptom as well, which can influence how tinnitus feels for those who are impacted.
Is Tinnitus Real?
Since tinnitus is the presence of sound that is not technically real, you might find yourself wondering if tinnitus is real at all. It is important to know that tinnitus is a real and scientifically-proven condition that is fairly common. Though the sounds associated with tinnitus are not real, our brain’s interpretation of them is very real.
Chances are that, at some point in your life, you have experienced a ringing in your ears. For the average person, this is a quick and casual annoyance. For those with tinnitus, it is the background music of life—at least for a while. Mild cases of tinnitus can be temporary, but chronic cases can be a consistent daily occurrence, greatly impacting the lives of those who have it.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is frequently considered to be an indication that something else is going on. It can be the direct result of various kinds of ear damage, which ultimately means that there are many different causes. Some causes are known to cause temporary tinnitus, while others can lead to chronic forms of tinnitus. However, the cause itself does not necessarily determine how long a person will have tinnitus. Each person is unique. Let’s explore some of the more common causes of tinnitus.
An injury can have many unpleasant side effects, particularly when the ears and brain are involved. Tinnitus that is the direct result of an injury is referred to as trauma-associated tinnitus. This can occur as a result of damage to the ear and its many components or even damage to the brain. In fact, 53% of those who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) develop tinnitus after the fact.
There are many different injuries that can lead to tinnitus. Once again, the tinnitus associated with these traumas can vary in the timeline. For some, tinnitus is an unpleasant side effect. For others, it is a new and permanent part of their lives unless they seek out some form of treatment. Tinnitus can be influenced based on recovery from the injury as well.
Tinnitus is particularly prominent in older members of the population, leading us to know that there is an age-related component to tinnitus in some cases. For the elderly, tinnitus is often a development of some other kind of medical consideration. It is commonly associated with conditions that are related to the brain or the heart. However, injuries and medications can also be a major consideration when considering age-related tinnitus.
The body is a fine-tuned system, which often means that, when something goes wrong somewhere, it influences other components of the body. Medical conditions and complications can both lead to tinnitus, either temporary or chronic.
Diseases and illnesses themselves can lead to tinnitus for some people. Tinnitus is a common symptom of conditions that influence the ears directly, like an ear infection following a particularly bad cold, or otosclerosis, which directly affects the bone present in the ear itself. More extreme conditions, like Meniere’s disease, can include tinnitus as one of many ear-related symptoms.
In addition to diseases that cause tinnitus, treating certain diseases can cause tinnitus as well. Several prominent medications on the market are known to directly cause tinnitus as an unfortunate side effect. The list includes everything from aspirin to antidepressants. For some, tinnitus as a side effect can be temporary or permanent, often different based on how long the person continues to take the medication.
With so many people being impacted by tinnitus, it is difficult to fit each diagnosis into a simple box of causes. The truth is that we are still working to better understand tinnitus, and we do not have a complete list of what causes it. However, there are some other prominent causes that are being studied.
Earwax is one culprit that is consistently considered when looking at causes. Tinnitus can occur as a direct result of extreme earwax buildup—but buildup itself isn’t the only problem. Many people can cause tinnitus themselves with built-up earwax by either trying to remove it with a cotton swab or causing an infection due to earwax buildup.
One other major consideration as we are all taking a much closer look at mental health is the association between tinnitus and anxiety. Many people experience a ringing in their ears during a moment of extreme panic, and anxiety is also believed to act as a cause of ongoing tinnitus. Tinnitus can be one clear symptom of severe anxiety.
Is Tinnitus Permanent?
Tinnitus can be inconvenient at best and deeply traumatic at its worst, and this often comes down to the length of the condition. For some, tinnitus can be a consistent presence in their lives with no clear end in sight. This begs the question: is tinnitus permanent?
The answer is fairly complicated. It is a very widespread belief that tinnitus can be permanent, but that belief is not necessarily true. While tinnitus can be chronic, meaning ongoing, that does not actually mean that a case of tinnitus is permanent. Several factors can influence how long a person lives with tinnitus.
Can Tinnitus Be Treated?
Though some people do live their lives with tinnitus, that doesn’t mean that everyone does. Tinnitus is a large problem that impacts a lot of people around the world, so it makes sense that there is a deep focus on treating it. The good news is that tinnitus can be treated in many cases.
A big part of the reason why people believe that tinnitus is permanent is because of the efficacy of the treatments available. For some people, tinnitus treatments can significantly help to reduce the discomfort associated with the condition. However, that isn’t the case for everyone. Some treatments simply do not yield the same results for all patients. The good news is that there are quite a few treatments to try.
Treating tinnitus is a process that comes with many different solutions. From tinnitus supplements to tinnitus hearing aids, there are plenty of options available. What works for some might not work for everyone, but when a person finds the right treatment, they can experience some really great results—sometimes even correcting their tinnitus completely.
There are a few physical and therapeutic approaches to treating tinnitus that many people turn to in order to treat their tinnitus. These treatments include cleaning the ears to remove buildup, dedicated exercises, and the use of auditory devices. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and mindfulness practices all use therapeutic techniques to help people find relief.
It is also common to use therapy as a treatment for tinnitus. This approach can help you to train your brain to cope with the consistent noise. However, it also places a distinct focus on supporting your mental well-being. Since chronic tinnitus is commonly related to consistent stress and other mental health concerns, therapeutic treatments can be particularly soothing.
Still Tinnitus is focused on helping you to find relief from tinnitus. The reality is that there are a lot of different treatments available, and a lot of them don’t seem to resonate with people who have chronic tinnitus. Still Tinnitus was founded by me—someone with tinnitus who actually understands life with this unique condition and has committed to being tinnitus-free.
There are plenty of doctors that are doing great work to treat tinnitus, but I knew that I could not sit back and wait for results. Throughout the years and with extensive, dedicated research, I have adapted my own personal method of treating tinnitus, so I can share it with those who are also living with chronic tinnitus. After several years of research and practice, I was able to take my tinnitus, which was severe enough to impact my ability to sleep, and completely remove it from my life (and ears!).
Still Tinnitus combines identifying the root cause of your tinnitus with clinically proven techniques to create a custom method that helps you. This method was made using a combination of tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and mindfulness with other tips and tricks. Using a series of exercises, you can relieve yourself of tinnitus and enjoy the sweet sound of silence once again. If my method doesn’t work for you, I even offer a full money-back guarantee!
There are many different causes of tinnitus and not nearly enough concrete solutions that can help those who have tinnitus to find relief. Life with tinnitus is a journey for everyone, and it is one that should be approached with knowledge and understanding. Whether you have just been diagnosed or have been living with tinnitus for years, there are solutions that can have a huge impact and even help you to leave your tinnitus behind. Be sure to explore your options to find out which solution is right for you!