Tinnitus is a common problem, which is often described as hearing a ringing or buzzing noise in the ears. If you suspect that you may have tinnitus or you’d like to learn more about tinnitus, here are some frequently asked questions.

1. What exactly is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is commonly referred to as ringing in the ears. If you suffer from tinnitus, you may find that you hear sounds even when there is no external noise. Although ringing is the most common sound, it is also possible to experience other noises, such as buzzing, whistling and hissing. The level of noise varies, and tinnitus can come on acutely or gradually. The symptoms of tinnitus tend to get worse when there’s no background noise, and this is why many people struggle when they try and get to sleep.

2. What causes tinnitus?

There is often no clear cause of tinnitus, but sometimes, it is linked to infections, a buildup of earwax, injury to the head or neck or diseases that contribute to hearing loss. Short-term bouts of tinnitus are often caused by exposure to loud noises, for example, a gunshot or music played at high volume at a concert or a club. In this case, you tend to experience tinnitus for a very short period of time.

3. Does tinnitus cause hearing loss?

It is common for people who have tinnitus to experience hearing loss, but tinnitus is not actually a cause of hearing loss. If you have tinnitus and your hearing is deteriorating, hearing aids may be the best treatment option.

4. What kinds of treatment are available for tinnitus?

If you have severe tinnitus an audiologist may recommend using hearing aids. Hearing aids enable you to pick up and process sounds and noises around you, improving your hearing and reducing the severity of symptoms of tinnitus with masking features. In some cases, removing wax from the ear or treating an infection may eliminate symptoms.

5. When should I seek help for tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be mild, moderate or severe. In some cases, tinnitus will come and go very quickly without causing any major issues, for example, when you’ve been at a concert, and your ears ring when you get into bed. In other cases, tinnitus can be severe and persistent. If you have tinnitus and you haven’t been exposed to loud noises or your symptoms are getting progressively worse, it’s best to seek advice.

If you have questions about tinnitus or you think you may have tinnitus, don’t hesitate to get in touch with an audiologist. Tinnitus may be nothing to worry about, but in some cases, it can be severe and could hinder your ability to live life to the fullest. Audiologists will be able to offer advice and conduct tests to determine a cause and possible solutions.