Tinnitus can affect your life in many different ways. For some people, it might just be an annoyance. For others, it can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult for them to focus on anything or to get a good night's sleep. While you might have heard of tinnitus, you could be unsure about how to tell if you have it. Or perhaps you have some of the symptoms of tinnitus, but you're not sure what tinnitus is. If you think that you could have tinnitus, there are a few ways to work out if that is the case.

Tinnitus symptoms

Tinnitus is characterized by sounds that you can hear without there being an external sound present. The sounds can take a range of forms, from ringing and buzzing to whistling, humming and popping. You might hear these sounds all the time or there could be times when it's worse, such as when you're feeling stressed or perhaps just when you're in a quiet room. If you think that you could have tinnitus, consider if and when you hear sounds that aren't externally present. They can include many different sounds, so don't dismiss your symptoms if your ears aren't ringing.

Frequency and permanence

Another thing to consider is how often you hear the sounds, as well as whether the cause might be temporary or permanent. For example, do you hear the sounds all the time or most of the time? Is it affecting your daily life? Or have you just occasionally had ringing in your ears or other sounds. It's fairly typical to experience some noises temporarily after hearing a loud noise, for example, or experiencing changes in atmospheric pressure. Sometimes tinnitus can be caused by a blocked ear or an infection, which can easily be treated.

How tinnitus affects your life

If you do experience the symptoms of tinnitus regularly, you should consider how it affects your life. In some cases, tinnitus might not have a large impact on your life because you don't experience the symptoms often enough. However, chronic tinnitus can lead to many other problems. You might find that it makes you stressed or anxious, or that it interferes with your sleep. It's important to think about how tinnitus is affecting your life so that you recognize how addressing the problem can help you. Tinnitus can be connected to other health problems so seeing an audiologist is a smart idea.

Hearing tests

The best way to tell if you have tinnitus is to see an audiologist for a consultation. They can speak to you about your symptoms and also check the health of your ears and your hearing. Sometimes, tinnitus might have an underlying cause that can be easily treated. It is also often linked to hearing loss, so a hearing test can help people experiencing the symptoms of tinnitus. Hearing aids can help to treat tinnitus, and can also feature sound machines which help to mask tinnitus sounds.

If you think that you might have tinnitus, see an audiologist to check your hearing health.