Tinnitus, also called head noise, is a ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or clicking noise that only the sufferer can hear. Potential causes can vary widely, and commonly include hearing loss, high blood pressure, and chronic medical conditions. As many as 50 million Americans are suffering from some degree of tinnitus, many of whom will have difficulty concentrating or sleeping as a result of the condition.
Are There Different Kinds of Tinnitus?
In addition to the many different noises a tinnitus sufferer may perceive, there are also different types of tinnitus to help classify the condition. The three different categories of tinnitus include:
- Subjective. Over 95 percent of cases of tinnitus are subjective, meaning the noise can only be heard by the patient. People with subjective tinnitus do not actually “hear” these noises, but the brain believes it is hearing a noise because there is a problem with the way it processes sound.
- Objective. In extremely rare cases, others may be able to hear another person’s head noise. This is called objective tinnitus, and is typically due to sounds from processes that occur within the body (such as blood flow circulating through a patient’s ears).
- Pulsatile. Patients with pulsatile tinnitus hear sounds that are in rhythm with their pulse. These tinnitus sufferers are essentially listening to their own heartbeats, a condition that is often due to restricted blood flow in the body. Pregnancy, elevated blood pressure, neuropathy, and other circulatory problems can all result in pulsatile tinnitus.
Is There a Cure?
Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are many effective treatments that can reduce distraction and stress experienced by patients. Hearing aids amplify environmental sounds, allowing patients to hear actual noises and ignore the perceived sounds of tinnitus. Sound maskers and white noise machines can also be used to “drown out” head noise, helping patients maintain concentration at work or sleep soundly.
While your tinnitus may seem like a small annoyance, untreated tinnitus can lead to dementia and loss of independence in older adults. Let our hearing care providers evaluate your condition and get you on the road to recovery today! Use our quick contact form to make an appointment at our office nearest you.