The American Tinnitus Association defines the condition (which can be pronounced either tin-NYE-tus or TIN-ni-tus) as hearing sounds that no one else can hear. Experienced generally more often by men over the age of 50, tinnitus appears to be age-related. Tinnitus inexplicably affects more Americans in the South than other parts of the country, and an estimated 50 million Americans currently have the condition.
Tinnitus can be of different types, and those who experience it may hear very different types of sounds. The first type distinction is between subjective tinnitus (in which only the person with the condition can hear the sounds) and objective tinnitus (which is rare, but in these cases a doctor can actually hear the sounds using sensitive listening devices). Beyond these two common forms of tinnitus there are several other less common forms. These include musical hallucinations (a person hears music that is not playing), pulsatile tinnitus where the rhythmic beats of the heart are heard, and low-frequency sounds that are mistaken for real noises in the environment.
The prevalent symptom of tinnitus is a ringing in one or both ears. This is often a continual high-pitched ringing that does not cease. The noise may also be perceived as a buzzing, whistling, hissing, roaring, or clicking sound, and can vary in both pitch and intensity. If you have mild tinnitus, you might tend to notice it only in quiet environments, because the ambient sounds of noisy environments can mask the buzzing or ringing sounds. Some people experience their tinnitus as related to their posture; for example, it is more present when they are lying or sitting down than when they’re standing. For many people with mild tinnitus it is a passing irritation that comes and goes. But for those experiencing more severe symptoms it can be a source of exhaustion, depression, stress, and anxiety. Interruptions in sleep or concentration are often found in many of these severe cases. Tinnitus can be diagnosed by one of our specialists by performing a short, painless examination. Tinnitus can be a warning sign of diseases like high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and Meniere’s disease. If any of these symptoms describe your situation please make an appointment to see us today.