There are many different types of tinnitus. Tinnitus can vary in the way it sounds, its severity, as well as its annoyance. It is most commonly referred to as “ringing in the brain.” Individuals have reported everything from intermittent episodes that are not very bothersome to a constant noise that can negatively influence one’s daily life.
Tinnitus can very in volume and take many different forms; for example, a ringing or chirping, “whooshing,” or clicking sounds. Some people even describe it as the sensation of a roaring ocean. It can occur a few times a month or many times in one day. It can last for a few moments or several hours, or it can be constant without relief – even while people sleep. For some, tinnitus has a pulsating or repetitive pattern.
Tinnitus is actually heard by most people at some point in their lives, even those with normal hearing. It can be a by-product of loud noise exposure, such as a rock concert or a night out at a club, disappearing after a few hours or the morning after the event. It can also happen spontaneously without any reason, and then disappear as suddenly as it began. Many professionals believe this is just a function of the normal hearing system. However, when tinnitus starts to negatively affect one’s life and impact on day-to-day functioning, it is necessary to seek medical attention.
A number of health conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus. In many cases, an exact cause is never found. A common cause is inner ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, which are interpreted as sounds called tinnitus.
For most tinnitus patients, there is no known cure, but there are many management options available to help you understand your tinnitus better and provide relief. Understanding what might be causing your condition is the first step to determining the best treatment plan. An experienced hearing care professional can inform you about what management options are available. Because tinnitus is unique from person to person, it is important to find a management plan that is individualized for your personal needs and works best for you.