Sarah Patterson, Audiologist, Wangaratta Audiology
Tinnitus is most commonly described as a ‘ringing’ or ‘buzzing’ noise heard in one or both ears, which is not made by a sound in the external environment. People report many different sounds such as: ringing, frying eggs or buzzing and all of these sounds can be tinnitus. Tinnitus is incredibly common, with some 17-20% of people suffering from tinnitus at some point in their lives. It is very difficult to measure tinnitus, as it is a purely subjective experience. Most people would describe their tinnitus as only mildly annoying, but in rare cases it can affect people’s daily lives.
Tinnitus is a common complaint people have when they come to our clinic for a hearing assessment. At times, the necessity of a hearing test or even the reason to see an audiologist creates confusion. Some of the reasons we see people with tinnitus include:
- Firstly, it may be that your doctor has recommended a hearing test. Tinnitus can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying, treatable medical condition, or a condition that requires further medical investigation. A hearing test helps doctors work out if further tests are needed.
- All audiologists are equipped to provide information and counselling about the causes, mechanisms and coping strategies for mild tinnitus.
- If tinnitus is severe, audiologists can provide a referral for support services and specialist audiologists to provide more in-depth support and rehabilitation services.
- Some people may find they have a hearing loss as well as tinnitus. If you have a hearing loss, your audiologist may recommend a trial with hearing aids. Most audiologists agree that hearing aids can have the pleasant side benefit of reducing tinnitus symptoms while you are wearing them.
Possible causes of tinnitus include damage from noise exposure, extreme stress and some medications. Sometimes the cause cannot be found. If you would like more information on tinnitus, you can visit http://tinnitus.org.au/Home , the website of Tinnitus Association Victoria.
Please contact Wangaratta Audiology on (03) 5722 4433 if you would like to discuss your particular difficulties with tinnitus further.