Tinnitus is the discernment of sound in the absence of any external stimuli to cause such a sound, based on the definition provided by the American Tinnitus Association. People often perceive a ringing sensation within the ears, although it manifests itself in an assortment of sounds such as hissing, whistling, or buzzing sounds.
Various causes can be attributed for the onset of tinnitus, which can be either momentary (or acute), or permanent (chronic). Over 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of Tinnitus, which accounts for 15% of the population. Considering the alarmingly large extent to which Tinnitus affects individuals, it is important to increase awareness about its symptoms.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you or a loved one might be suffering from Tinnitus:
- Are you often aware of a sound in the background when you know that there is no source that could be causing it?
- If your answer to the above question is “yes,” is it a ringing, humming, buzzing, whistling, hissing, clicking, or swooshing sound?
- Is this sound audible enough to disrupt other sounds in your envionrment?
- Are you often awake at night due to this sound?
- Does this sound occur frequently or only sometimes?
- Were you exposed to a loud environmental situation before you began hearing this sound?
- Did this sound begin to occur after you began taking any new type of medication?
- Did you hear this sound sometime within the past three months?
- Are your ears often clogged up with earwax?
- Do you tend to avoid social situations or leisure activities that you once loved to pursue due to this sound?
If the answer to most of the above questions is “yes,” you may be suffering from Tinnitus. Consult a medical professional to see whether your Tinnitus is acute or chronic and whether it is being caused by any other underlying disease. There is no known cure for Tinnitus but several treatment options can help reduce some of the discomfort caused by it.