Posted by: seattledizzygroup | May 23, 2014

Tinnitus Awareness Week 2014

Tinnitus Awareness Week 2014 banner

May 18-24, 2014 is Tinnitus Awareness Week, an annual event coordinated by American Tinnitus Association (ATA) to raise public awareness and help develop resources to silence tinnitus. Tinnitus Awareness Week is traditionally held in May, which was designated as “National Better Hearing and Speech Month” by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Find out more about Tinnitus Awareness Week:

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head where no external source is present (aka “ringing in the ears” or “head noise”). People with tinnitus describe hearing different sounds including ringing, hissing, static, crickets, screeching, whooshing, roaring, pulsing, ocean waves, buzzing, dial tones, even music. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant-with single or multiple tones-and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering.

There are two types of tinnitus: Subjective tinnitus are sounds only you can hear. This is the most common type of tinnitus. Objective tinnitus are head or ear noises audible to other people as well as the patient. These sounds can be recorded using a sensitive microphone.

TINNITUS is pronounced either ti-NIGHT-us or TIN-i-tus. Both pronunciations are correct. The word is of Latin origin, meaning “to ring or tinkle like a bell.”

For more information about tinnitus, read this article from Tinnitus Today magazine.

How Many People Have Tinnitus?

As many as 1 in 5 people worldwide or about 50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus to some degree. About 16 million Americans have severe enough tinnitus to seek medical attention and about two million patients in the U.S. are so seriously debilitated that they cannot function on a “normal” day-to-day basis.

Noise is the leading cause of tinnitus and our world has gotten progressively noisier. Noise is in abundance not only in recreational situations like concerts and sporting events, but many face extreme noise on-the-job. Firefighters are one of the many emergency service personnel at risk for developing tinnitus.

You can learn more about at-risk populations and how to protect yourself from further noise damage, by reading about how loud is too loud.

What Causes Tinnitus?

The exact physiological cause or causes of tinnitus are not known. There are, however, several likely sources which are known to trigger or worsen tinnitus:

  • Noise exposure – Exposure to loud noises can damage and even destroy hair cells, called cilia, in the inner ear. Once damaged, these hair cells cannot be renewed or replaced.
  • Head and neck trauma – Physical trauma to the head and neck can induce tinnitus. Other symptoms include headaches, vertigo, and memory loss.
  • Certain disorders, such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, Meniere’s Disease, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and thoracic outlet syndrome, can have tinnitus as a symptom. When tinnitus is a symptom of another disorder, treating the disorder can help alleviate the tinnitus.
  • Certain types of tumors
  • Wax build-up
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Ototoxicity – Some medications are ototoxic, that is, the medications are harmful or damaging to the ear. Other medications will produce tinnitus as a side effect without damaging the inner ear. Effects, which can depend on the dosage of the medication, can be temporary or permanent. Before taking any medication, make sure that your prescribing physician is aware of your tinnitus, and discuss alternative medications that may be available. To learn more visit:
  • Pulsatile tinnitus – Rare type of tinnitus that sounds like a rhythmic pulsing in the ear, typically in time with one’s heartbeat. This kind of tinnitus can be caused by abnormal blood flow in arteries or veins close to the inner ear, brain tumors or irregularities in brain structure.

Does Tinnitus Cause Hearing Loss?

No, tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease. Many people commonly confuse tinnitus as being the cause or underlying condition. Hearing loss is either conductive (problem with outer or middle ear) or sensori-neural (problem with inner ear) and classified by different categories: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Hearing loss is a complex process and due to the personal and unique nature of each tinnitus condition, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. However, in many cases tinnitus accompanies hearing loss. Because hearing loss can be caused by noise damage to the ear, an individual can get both hearing loss and tinnitus from noise damage, but the two do not always occur together. There are many people who have no measurable hearing loss but have tinnitus.

Can Anything Be Done To Treat and Manage Tinnitus?

There currently is no cure for tinnitus, but tinnitus can often be managed by treating the underlying cause or by altering reactions to it. One of the most effective treatments for tinnitus patients is called sound therapy. Treatment outcomes vary depending on the specific cause of tinnitus, how long a patient has had tinnitus, and other competing health factors.  ATA offers many additional tinnitus management strategies for sufferers. However, these options do not work for everyone and do not work to the same degree for each individual patient. It is important to discuss your particular tinnitus situation with a qualified health professional.


Tinnitus information from:

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Seattle Dizzy Group

Providing support & community for people living with chronic dizziness & imbalance -- in Seattle & beyond

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