Tinnitus is the persistent sense that you hear a sound that is not really there. This sound is most often described as “ringing in your ears” but people who suffer from tinnitus describe it many different ways:: whistling, hissing, whooshing, roaring, buzzing, chirping. There are countless causes that might provoke tinnitus, but they all ultimately point back to an injury to the auditory system.
This might seem obscure or uncommon, but it is estimated that almost one out of every six Americans has tinnitus, around 50 million people.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose tinnitus, a doctor will usually not require anything more than the patient’s report of the symptoms. But treatment does require that the doctor identify the specific underlying condition that is provoking the tinnitus. The doctor will perform extensive examinations to do this, examinations that go far beyond just the ears.
For example, the sensation of constant clicking is highly correlated with neck muscle injuries. And high blood pressure frequently leads to the perception of humming. Both of these are tinnitus, but they obviously require completely different treatments due to their completely different underlying causes. And these treatments to the underlying causes are the only option available to doctors nowadays, because there is not yet a way to stop the brain’s perception of the constant sound.
The Impact of Tinnitus
It is probably pretty simple to imagine the unrelenting stress that tinnitus creates. Left untreated, hearing troubles always strain communication, creating unnecessary challenges both in relationships and in the basic interactions daily life requires. When it is a matter of hearing loss, hearing aids are a simple enough solution, but it is different with tinnitus. The difficulties often prompt feelings of isolation. Sharing simple observations and necessary information have both been made more difficult and clumsy. The nuances of more subtle or complex connections become practically impossible. Now everything requires extra concentration and this leads to fatigue. Trust dissolves and relationships are lost.
It is no surprise that people with tinnitus instinctively find it simplest to just withdraw socially. This often happens among people with any form of hearing troubles, usually it happens so gradually that they themselves will not even consciously recognize that they are doing it.
This is How and When Tinnitus Becomes Most Extreme
Then, alone, in silence, the symptoms of tinnitus become most apparent. The symptoms compound and this compounding causes their sum effect to accelerate. Social isolation quickly becomes loneliness and loneliness easily becomes depression. Depression causes feelings of powerlessness and frustration. Feeling frustrated and powerless creates anxiety.
And it is a feedback loop. Anxiety brings on even more social withdrawal, which starts the ever-quickening cycle over at the top with increased intensity. And this increasing intensity eventually leads to cognitive decline. When someone feels isolated and confused, it is common that they panic and act impulsively, trying to regain some resemblance control.
Erratic behavior amplifies the feeling of alienation, and remember, just because your brain has stopped being able to identify auditory signals, it does not mean that your ears have stopped sending them. The rogue signals that tinnitus sends to your brain cause disorientation. They are literally attempting to rewrite the old neural pathways that are no longer operational, and this increased exertion leads to even more fatigue and disorientation.
If You Are Suffering From Tinnitus
First, remain calm and consider your options. Keeping up with your changing needs and recalibrating to accommodate them with intentionality has to be your top priority. Every relationship you have, your overall sense of well-being, and any professional opportunity all depend on this. Be honest with yourself: your condition is real and it is serious. Commit all the time and energy that may be necessary to adequately address it.
A trained specialist can help guide the exact right combination of treatments specific to your needs and that alone should immediately and profoundly reduce the emotional, mental, and psychological stress that tinnitus is causing. Simple solutions include hearing aids, masking devices, white noise machines, behavioral treatments and therapy.
Seek information from The American Tinnitus Association (ATA), the country’s largest nonprofit resource on tinnitus and make an appointment with one of our specialists today.
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