Have you ever asked “Why are my ears ringing? Or do you hear other sounds such as crickets, clicking, pulsating or ocean sounds on an ongoing basis? If you do, you may be suffering from a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus may best be described as a condition where a person hears sounds in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. It can be a mild annoyance or it can be very frustrating and maddening at times. It can be bad enough to keep one from getting a decent night’s sleep. Tinnitus can be diagnosed by a doctor performing a physical examination of the patient’s head and neck. The doctor will use an instrument called an otoscope to examine the ears for wax, infection or structural changes. Tinnitus can also be caused by exposure to sudden or long-term noise. High risk groups include industrial workers, farmers, transport workers as well as anybody using a noisy lawn mower. Loud music generated by portable music devices such as I-Pods can also cause damage to the ear and therefore, lead to tinnitus. It is said that up to 5% of the world’s population is affected by tinnitus.
There is no known cure for tinnitus. However, there are treatments and devices which can help mask or lesson the noises heard with tinnitus. A fan or soft music can help mask the noise. There are also devices known as tinnitus maskers that are similar to hearing aids in appearance, but they produce a pleasant sound. Listening to recordings of soothing music or white noise may help cover the unwanted noise, especially while sleeping.