April 2020 Brampton Guardian

Tinnitus refers to the perception of hearing sound when no external sound is present. The term tinnitus is derived from Latin to ring or tinkle. It is pronounced tin-eye-tis or tin-i-tus; either pronunciation works. It affects approximately ten per cent of the population. Tinnitus sufferers report hearing sounds like crickets, clicking, low-pitched or high-pitched tones, oscillating tones, or even musical tones. Pulsatile tinnitus is a form of tinnitus that sounds like a heartbeat. Tinnitus can be heard in one ear, both ears, or in the centre of the head. Those afflicted often report feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. Tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom of a malfunction in the auditory system. It may involve the outer ear, middle ear, cochlea, auditory nerve, or the auditory cortex. Tinnitus can be from cerumen in the ear canal, middle ear infections, or otosclerosis. It may be the result of jaw disorder (TMJ), medications, high blood pressure, Meniere’s disease, or certain types of tumours. More commonly, though, tinnitus originates from damaged microscopic receptor hair cells of the cochlea.

Those afflicted with hearing loss are more likely to have tinnitus, especially those with noise exposure, such as industrial workers, construction workers, musicians or war veterans. According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) there is no scientifically verified cure for most kinds of tinnitus; however, there are some treatment options. Sound generators can be used for people who are affected by tinnitus in quiet settings, such as at bedtime. A sound generator can be placed at the bedside, and produce sounds such as music, ocean waves, or white noise. There are also smartphone applications that allow streaming of the tinnitus masking sound into your ears via headphones. Hearing aids can effectively reduce tinnitus because hearing aids amplify ambient external sounds, which reduces the perception of internally generated tinnitus sounds. Most hearing aids also have proprietary tinnitus-masking technologies built into them that attempt to reduce the perception of tinnitus. There are also behavioural therapy approaches for tinnitus to manage associated feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.

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