Studies have shown that around 10 percent of Americans experience the conditions of tinnitus every year, but the condition is not particularly well-known. As a result, there is a possibility that an individual may be living with tinnitus but is unaware that the symptoms they are experiencing actually have a name. If you have previously experienced issues such as hearing sounds that have no physical basis, consider learning more about tinnitus.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition that causes people to hear sounds that do not have a physical basis; the sounds are essentially phantom sounds that can only be heard by the person experiencing the condition.

Tinnitus is both a symptom and a condition in its own right. Some health conditions, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), list tinnitus as a symptom; in these cases, treating the primary condition subsequently resolves the tinnitus symptoms.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

The primary symptom of tinnitus is often described as a ringing-in-the-ears sensation, but it’s important to note that tinnitus does not always cause a specific ringing sound. For example, some people with tinnitus describe the sounds they hear as buzzing, whistling, beeping or clicking – essentially, any noise a person hears that does not have a physical basis can be considered a sign of tinnitus.

For some people with tinnitus, the noises they hear are very loud and distracting, while others can only detect the sounds in quiet environments – such as when they are trying to sleep at night. Furthermore, the symptoms can also be intermittent; for example, a person with tinnitus may experience symptoms every day for a week, then nothing at all for a few days and then the noises begin to reappear.

Other symptoms of tinnitus include headaches, depression and insomnia – though these symptoms are more caused by tinnitus, rather than characteristics of the condition itself. Tinnitus can be hugely disruptive to a person’s ability to live a normal life, which has negative consequences for their overall health and well-being.

Who is most likely to get tinnitus?

Anyone can experience tinnitus at any age, though some groups are more at risk: people who work in loud environments or those who regularly attend noisy events or listen to music at high volumes.

However, the group most likely to experience tinnitus is people who are experiencing hearing loss; while the two conditions can, and do, occur in isolation, there are high levels of comorbidity between the two.

Can tinnitus be treated?

There are a variety of tinnitus treatments available, ranging from psychotherapy to hearing aids that are equipped with functionality that can help to mask the noises produced by tinnitus.

What should you do if you suspect you are experiencing tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a difficult condition to live with, so if you do recognize any of the symptoms of tinnitus we have discussed above, then seeking further advice from your audiologist is by far the best choice.