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A Quick Guide to Understanding Tinnitus

an audiologist

Tinnitus is a condition of the inner rear that creates noise in the background of your hearing. The noise created can range from mild to severe, it can also be short term or long term. Tinnitus occurs when the delicate hair cells on the cochlea in the inner ear start to die or become damaged by loud noise. 

These small hairs have the task of sending audio signals to the brain where they are converted to electrical signals and read. When the hairs are not there the brain continues to interpret the empty channel, which causes the tinnitus ringing. This can be very frustrating but there are some effective responses. 

The causes of tinnitus

Most tinnitus is caused by exposure to loud noises. This means noises above the level of 80 decibels. Noises above this level include traffic, power tools, aircraft, and lawnmowers. Whether you have tinnitus or not you need to protect your ears when working with noise levels this high. 

If you go to a loud rock concert you will probably be exposed to noise levels above 100 decibels, this might cause some temporary tinnitus that disappears after a few days. But if you work in a noisy environment like an airport you might experience the onset of tinnitus long term which is harder to treat. 

How long does it last?

As mentioned there are two types of tinnitus, long term tinnitus and short term tinnitus. Short term tinnitus is caused by temporary exposure to loud noises and will typically last for a few days, perhaps weeks in some cases. Long term tinnitus is more likely to be a permanent condition that will require treatment. 

If you can't easily identify the cause of the tinnitus then it is likely that you have the onset of long-term tinnitus, especially if you are starting to get a bit older and your hearing is beginning to deteriorate. Long term tinnitus is probably permanent and may get worse if you continue to expose yourself to high decibel levels. 

Treatments for tinnitus 

There are various ways you can treat tinnitus ranging from alternative treatments to medication, the way you treat your condition will depend on the severity of the tinnitus and whether it is short term or long term. For short term tinnitus, you only need to give your hearing a break for a few days and protect it better next time. 

For long term tinnitus, you have more options. There is likely to be a ringing on your hearing that is causing you some distress, so you might want to investigate hearing aid devices to allow it. If the symptoms are mild and you don't want a hearing device some anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs work well. 

Hearing Healthcare Appointments 

If you have noticed the onset of tinnitus it's a good idea to go to a hearing care provider to have your hearing checked. Chances are this is not something you have done for a while, or ever. A hearing specialist will test your hearing and offer you some advice on how to choose a device or an alternative treatment method.