Tinnitus is a steady, continuous sound. Nothing in the outside world causes it. It originates from within. Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. Others describe a hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking sound.
Tinnitus is very common, and has various causes. For example, some medications produce side effects on the auditory nerves. Certain head injuries or illnesses can bring on tinnitus.
Recent advances in understanding tinnitus have allowed audiologists to understand the processes of the tinnitus cycle:
- A tinnitus signal is generated in the auditory nerve system.
- The brain places a level of importance on this signal.
- The limbic system, deep in the brain, creates an emotional response to the signal.
- The emotion could be fear, a sense of being out of control, annoyance, disruption of sleep and/or concentration, anxiety, etc.
This process of the brain identifying a sound, resulting in an emotional response, can produce a cycle that repeats over and over. If the brain continues to treat the signal as important, the tinnitus becomes more intrusive and troubling.
Causes of Tinnitus
• Hearing loss
• Excessive noise
• Trauma/Head injury
• Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• Ototoxic drugs
• Lyme disease
• Thyroid disorders
Effects of Tinnitus
• Loss of sleep
• Inability to relax
• Lack of concentration
• Sensitivity to loud sounds/hyperacusis
• Negative impact of work, family and social life
• Feeling irritable
• Interferes with your enjoyment of life
• Feelings of frustration with things
• Avoiding quiet and or noisy situations