Tinnitus, you may have heard the word but say it out loud (tin-a-tus). Now imagine someone whispering that word ‘tinnitus’ at great speed over and over in your ear from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep seven days a week. That is the experience of many tinnitus sufferers everyday of their lives.
Some tinnitus sufferers describe the sounds they hear as a clicking, ringing, buzzing or whistling sound. And according to the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, around 15% of the American population suffer from tinnitus . Regardless of the nature of the sound, tinnitus can cause ongoing mental issues with some 45% of those tinnitus sufferers experiencing chronic or severe distress including sleep deprivation .
Furthermore, the incidence of tinnitus is clearly on the increase but the condition is still frequently misunderstood and ignored by the medical profession. There is no single cause for tinnitus and symptoms and severity can range widely; this compounds the difficulties faced by tinnitus sufferers in their search for relief.
The lack of general knowledge about the problems tinnitus causes, its invisible nature and the fact that usually others cannot hear the distressing noises has prompted the House of Hearing to produce a series of articles for the benefit of tinnitus suffers and their loved ones.
The aim is to offer the tinnitus sufferer information, options, support and hope. So, read on and learn about the impacts of tinnitus, its causes, and the latest researches on tinnitus cure treatment.
Mental impacts of Tinnitus
For many sufferers tinnitus is simply an annoyance but for others the constant noise makes understanding conversations difficult. The tinnitus victim has to give more energy to listening with a resulting rise in fatigue and frustration levels. For others tinnitus may interfere with their ability to concentrate and can result in an increase in workplace stress.
You may be one of the 40% of tinnitus sufferers who also experience hyperacusis (sensitivity to noise) and sudden noises such as a car horn can cause acute distress. This may add to your anxiety about entering noisy situations and lead you to reduce the number of your social interactions.
Perhaps the constant internal noise interferes with your normal sleep patterns and this too provokes increased tiredness, anxiety and is accompanied by a decreased tolerance for stress.
A recent study observed a striking correlation between chronic tinnitus and depressive and anxiety disorders with as many as 55-60% of tinnitus sufferers also displaying psychiatric disorders. However, more research is needed to determine the possible extent of any cause and effect between tinnitus and the mental/emotional aspects.
Tinnitus is frequently associated with hearing loss and you may find yourself needing to deal with the emotional impacts of that loss. Grief, bitterness, frustration, anxiety, and anger are all common emotions that you may experience as you learn to cope with tinnitus.
You may have to deal with the emotional distress triggered by:
• Your inability to hear sounds as you used to
• Fear and frustration while struggling with noisy situations
• Heightened sensitivity to certain sounds
• Difficulties getting a good night’s sleep.
Perhaps for you the constant noise means you can no longer appreciate silence in all its beauty ever again or you miss the subtleties of your favourite bird calls; this may be a very painful loss for you.
In fact, researchers have drawn strong links between the phantom pain of an amputee and tinnitus . And perhaps this constant reminder of a sound you can no longer tune out will kindle strong feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
For others tinnitus may simply be a sad wake up sign that old age is approaching.
Yes, tinnitus can be a problem. The good news is that although there is currently no cure for tinnitus there are ways you can manage the condition and reduce its impacts on your life.
Some forms of tinnitus are associated with jaw, head or neck trauma. In these cases the sufferer may develop potentially severe headaches. Some of these issues may be treatable so it is important to get good professional advice.
Tinnitus: don’t suffer in silence
Yes, the impact of tinnitus can have a major impact on your life but there are things you can do to reduce its effects.
Come and visit us at House of Hearing for the best advice and the best options.