What is Tinnitus

The Soundfair Hearing Centre hears from a lot of people who have been diagnosed with Tinnitus by their GP, but don’t know the next steps in managing the condition and what it really entails. So we have put together some basic information and would also like to share some lived experience stories – from people who participated in the recent Tinnitus Awareness Week our friends at Tinnitus Australia (a Soundfair initiative) recently ran a campaign for.

What is Tinnitus?

It is often called a ringing in the ears and is a hearing condition where people hear noises, hisses or hums that are not present in the real world. It can be constant or occasional, loud or soft, mild or severe, and can be heard in one or both ears, or even in the head. Tinnitus can happen to people of all ages and backgrounds. Statistics show that one in three people in Australia have experienced Tinnitus and one in six people live with constant tinnitus.

What causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is usually a symptom of other underlying conditions, for example – hearing loss, ear injury, neck/jaw issues or circulatory system disorders. It is common because of a change in the ear, however is generated by the brain.

When the brain decides these sounds are a threat, it can become troublesome and begin impacting the person’s life. There can be an increased risk of depression and anxiety and the fear that the tinnitus will get worse and the impacts become greater.

How is Tinnitus managed?

There are many ways to manage your tinnitus. Once you have been diagnosed – or even recognise that you have tinnitus – the first step is to get in touch with your audiologist and have your hearing checked. They can also help you understand your tinnitus and come up with a management plan. Both Stacey and Anushka have Tinnitus Management Consultations where they can sit with you and discuss how tinnitus is impacting your day to day and life in general. Looking at tinnitus from a whole person centred approach will help in the way you manage with it, and different strategies that can be utilised to assist. Sometimes an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist may need to check if there are any medical causes for the tinnitus.

Another option that we have trialled a pilot program for is psychology supports. We recently had a wonderful provisional psychologist working alongside us here at the hearing centre, and the benefit of having his services to offer to our clients was immeasurable. Although he has finished his program here with us, we have recommendations for providers who can assist similarly.

Everyone’s experience with tinnitus is unique and it’s important to find the best options that suit you and your symptoms, and how it affects you. There is help out there, including the Tinnitus Australia website and their advice line. There are also many Facebook groups with support worldwide.

If you would like more information or a consult with our audiologists, please reach out – info@soundfair.org.au or call 03-9510-1577.