What is Tinnitus
What is Tinnitus
So, what is tinnitus? In simple terms, tinnitus is a sound no one else hears, except the one who has it. Tinnitus is the medical or scientific term used to describe the hearing or experience of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no outside sound is present.
These sounds do not come from outside the head, but they may seem as if they do. It is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears.” That is in spite of some people hearing hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking, instead of ringing. Some patients even hear insect sounds like the sound of crickets or locusts.
Tinnitus can be irregular or constant-with single to numerous and simple to complex tones and their perceived degree can range from subtle to shattering in volume. In some persons, the intensity of tinnitus changes by the movements of their shoulders, head, tongue, jaw, or eyes.
Tinnitus is not classified as a disease but rather a sign or symptom of a primary cause or illness such as ear infection, unwanted object in the ear or wax-build-up due to nose allergies.
It can also be because of aging that can result to natural hearing impairment or a side-effect of a drug. Physicians, however, have identified that noise-induced hearing loss is the most common cause of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is not measurable using objective examinations like an audiometric test that measures sound frequency and intensity. Clinically, the case can be rated as slight to catastrophic which would be according to its negative effects on the patients’ day-today activities like eating, studying or sleeping.
Most patients with tinnitus have a hearing loss which makes them unable to hear external sounds properly. The sound heard by someone who is suffering from tinnitus may actually range from a silent background to a noise that can be heard even over very loud outside sounds.
Medical studies have also suggested that a damage to hearing as a result of abnormal levels of noise or sound exposure can be a major cause for tinnitus to occur and that there are more tinnitus patients in industrialized countries than in developing ones.
While the term might not be very popular, tinnitus is actually very common. Medical studies from the University of Antwerp in Belgium revealed that 20 in every 100 people between the ages of 55 and 65 years experience tinnitus symptoms.
So how can one know if he/she is suffering from tinnitus or just hearing a low frequency sound? The first sign of tinnitus is actually the difficulty of deciding whether it is an external or an internal sound.
To be sure, there are simple things to do to serve as a self-diagnosis. One is to move from one location to another that is far enough for any low frequency sound to be heard simultaneously. It’s like moving from your study room to the dining area. Then observe if the sound is still there.
If it is still there, it might be tinnitus. One could also ask the other people within the same area if they hear the same sound. If they do, then the possibility that it is tinnitus lowers.