What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a noise not originating from the environment outside the patient. Tinnitus is most commonly associated with hearing loss. People with severe cases of tinnitus may find it difficult to hear, work, or even sleep.  The noise is commonly experienced as a buzzing or ringing in one or both ears.

Tinnitus can be a symptom of an underlying problem relating to hearing loss, circulation, noise exposure, medication, or ear injury. Unwanted noise may arise in the inner ear, the hearing nerve pathway and surrounding structures, or the brain itself.  Bothersome as it may be, it usually is not a sign that something is seriously wrong. However, the effects of tinnitus can have a significant impact on quality of life. It may be associated with fatigue, stress, memory problems, irritability, sleep problems, and anxiety, to name a few. People with tinnitus may not have any perceptible hearing loss.

What to expect at a Tinnitus assessment?

Due to its complexity, a tinnitus assessment at SoundWave Audiology takes an hour and a half. We ask all tinnitus clients to complete and return two questionnaires a few days before the assessment. This is so our audiologist has time to review the answers before your appointment. This enables them to spend more time talking directly with you. At the appointment, we will go over your answers from the questionnaires, as well as completing a comprehensive diagnostic hearing (see adult hearing test), and tinnitus assessment. From this information, your audiologists will try to diagnose the cause of your tinnitus or recommend further investigation as required by your GP or an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Your audiologists will also discuss a personalised treatment and management plan with you. We offer a range of different tinnitus treatments and will take the time to find the right one for you, while providing strategies to better deal with your tinnitus symptoms.

At the conclusion of all tinnitus assessments, we send a written report to your doctor unless otherwise requested.

Due to its complex nature, if you require a tinnitus assessment, please ensure you notify us when making an appointment so we can make sure you have enough time to get the treatment you deserve.

Treatment Options

Although there is no “cure” for tinnitus, there are several treatments that may provide relief. Your audiologist will discuss treatment options and develop an individual treatment plan based on your assessment results and you own personal needs and goals.

Tinnitus can be complex to diagnose and treat. The good news is that almost all tinnitus can be effectively treated with the help of a specialist audiologist!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does any part of the assessment hurt?

No. All the assessments we will carry out re non-invasive an should not cause discomfort. If at any point during the consultation anything is uncomfortable you are encouraged to let us know straight away.

Can my tinnitus be cured?

Although there is no cure for tinnitus, it can be temporary or persistent, mild or severe, gradual or instant. The goal of treatment is to help you manage your perception of the sound in your head. There are many treatments available that can help reduce the perceived intensity of tinnitus, as well as its omnipresence. To treat your tinnitus, your audiologist in conjunction with other hearing health professionals such as your GP, Ear-, Nose- and Throat specialist, will first try to identify any underlying, treatable condition that may be associated with your symptoms. If tinnitus is due to a health condition, your doctor may be able to take steps that could reduce the noise. Examples include:

  • Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax can decrease tinnitus symptoms.
  • Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery or another treatment to address the problem.
  • Changing your medication. If a medication you’re taking appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the drug, or switching to a different medication.

Are there different types of tinnitus?

Yes, different people can have different types of tinnitus. Sometimes the noise you hear may help your audiologist/GP/ENT specialist to differentiate to cause of the tinnitus.

  • Clicking: Muscle contractions in and around your ear can cause sharp clicking sounds that you hear in bursts. They may last from several seconds to a few minutes.
  • Rushing or humming: These sound fluctuations are usually vascular in origin, and you may notice them when you exercise or change positions, such as when you lie down or stand up.
  • Heartbeat (pulsatile tinnitus): Blood vessel problems, such as high blood pressure and blockage of the ear canal or eustachian tube can amplify the sound of your heartbeat in your ears
  • Low-pitched ringing: Conditions that can cause low-pitched ringing in one ear include Meniere’s disease. Tinnitus may become very loud before an attack of vertigo — a sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving.
  • High-pitched ringing: Exposure to a very loud noise or a blow to the ear can cause a high-pitched ringing or buzzing that usually goes away after a few hours. However, if there’s hearing loss as well, tinnitus may be permanent. Long-term noise exposure, age-related hearing loss or medications can cause a continuous, high-pitched ringing in both ears. Acoustic neuroma can cause continuous, high-pitched ringing in one ear.
  • Other sounds: Stiff inner ear bones (otosclerosis) can cause low-pitched tinnitus that may be continuous or may come and go. Earwax, foreign bodies or hairs in the ear canal can rub against the eardrum, causing a variety of sounds.

Can I do anything to help improve my tinnitus?

Often, tinnitus can’t be treated. Some people, however, get used to it and notice it less than they did at first. For many people, certain adjustments make the symptoms less bothersome.

These tips may help:

  • Avoid possible irritants:
    Reduce your exposure to things that may make your tinnitus worse. Common examples include loud noises, caffeine and nicotine.
  • Cover up the noise:
    In a quiet setting, a fan, soft music or low-volume radio static may help mask the noise from tinnitus.
  • Manage stress:
    Stress can make tinnitus worse. Stress management, whether through relaxation therapy, biofeedback or exercise, may provide some relief.
  • Minimize your alcohol consumption:
    Alcohol increases the force of your blood by dilating your blood vessels, causing greater blood flow, especially in the inner ear area.

Book your appointment today!

Do it online or call us on 07 444 4014