What is Tinnitus? - The Wolds Practice

February 2016 - Tinnitus
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside your body, rather than from an
outside source.
It's often described as "ringing in the ears", although several sounds can be heard, including:
What causes Tinnitus?
It's not clear exactly why it happens, but it often occurs along with some degree of hearing
Tinnitus is often associated with:
age-related hearing loss
inner ear damage caused by repeated exposure to loud noises
an earwax build-up
a middle ear infection
Ménière's disease – a condition that also causes hearing loss and vertigo (a spinning
Otosclerosis – an inherited condition where an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear
causes hearing loss
Should I see my GP for Tinnitus?
You should see your GP if you continually or regularly hear sounds such as buzzing, ringing or
humming in your ears.
They can examine your ears to see if the problem might be caused by a condition they could
easily treat, such as an ear infection or earwax build-up. They can also do some simple checks
to see if you have any hearing loss.
If necessary, your GP can refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests and treatment.
Is Tinnitus serious?
Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious underlying condition. For some people it may come and go
and only be a minor irritation.
However, it can sometimes be continuous and have a significant impact on everyday life.
Severe cases can be very distressing, affect concentration, and cause problems such as
difficulty sleeping (insomnia) and depression.
February 2016 - Tinnitus
In many cases, tinnitus will get better gradually over time. But it's important to seek medical
advice to see if an underlying cause can be found and treated, and to help you find ways to
cope with the problem.
How is Tinnitus treated?
There's currently no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone. However, research
to find an effective treatment is continuing.
If an underlying cause of your tinnitus can be found, effectively treating it may help improve
your tinnitus – for example, removing a build-up of earwax might help.
If a specific cause can't be found, treatment will focus on helping you manage the condition on
a daily basis. This may involve:
Sound therapy – listening to neutral sounds to distract you from the sound of tinnitus
Counselling – therapy that aims to educate you about tinnitus and help you learn to
cope with it more effectively
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – therapy that aims to help change the way you
think about your tinnitus so it becomes less noticeable
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) – therapy that aims to help retrain the way your
brain responds to tinnitus so you start to tune the sound out and become less aware of
Tinnitus Awareness week: 8th-14th February 2016
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