Man with Tinnitus HeadacheIt is not uncommon for people to report hearing a 'sound' in their ears. They often describe this sound as a ringing, buzzing, whistling, or whooshing. This is called tinnitus and it is not a disease. Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any sound being present, and is audible only to you. It is more common than most expect, particularly in the elderly. It can be a symptom of an underlying problem such as hearing loss, ear infection, noise exposure, wax in your ear, or stress. Certain medications may cause tinnitus.

Your tinnitus is real even if there is no physical stimulus associated with it. This signal is linked to missing outer hair cells, which are biological hearing aids. Damage to the outer hair cells can begin before you have any measurable hearing loss. Hearing loss is part of the normal process of aging. Eventually all of us will develop hearing loss. There is activity in the centres in your brain which control your emotions and unconscious reactions to stimuli. Tinnitus can become associated with something bad or unwanted, and then every time you hear your tinnitus the emotional part of your brain is activated. We want to stop this 'reflex' before it begins. Ideally you should avoid silence and hear sounds all the time.

Tinnitus may seem louder first thing in the morning and late at night when things are quiet. Play the radio or television at a low volume to distract your brain from the sound of your tinnitus. The important part of tinnitus is how you feel and react to it. Try to ignore it and focus on other sounds in your environment. It should become less bothersome.

Upon searching the internet, you may come across a number of claims for products that will cure your tinnitus. Some people will report success having used these products, however there is no actual proof that any of these things are truly effective. There is no known cure for tinnitus. There is no drug that has been found to be effective in alleviating tinnitus. At this point proper counseling by the appropriate professionals is by far the most helpful approach.

An audiologist can provide a hearing assessment to determine if there is a problem with the ears and provide counseling to help you cope with the tinnitus.

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