You wouldn't necessarily know by looking at someone whether or not they have tinnitus, but it doesn't mean that the condition isn't there. Estimated to affect up from 17 to 20 per cent of the Australian population*, tinnitus involves hearing internal sounds akin to ringing, humming or buzzing.
People will experience tinnitus in different ways, with some only aware of the noise at certain times of the day, while others can find the condition to be debilitating. However, due to the nature of tinnitus, it can also accompany other health concerns.
So is tinnitus a symptom, or a disease?
While tinnitus can be an indicator of other issues, it can still be a condition in its own right. One way people can develop tinnitus is due to damage caused by overexposure to damaging volumes, in a similar way as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Furthermore, tinnitus can develop alongside age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), which occurs due to the degeneration of the sensitive hair cells that line our inner ear.
However, the condition can also act as a red flag for other health issues, including the inner ear disorder known as Meniere's disease, as noted by Mayo Clinic*. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders also count tinnitus as a symptom*, as well as teeth grinding.
As explained by WebMD, tinnitus can also occur in response to the growth of acoustic neuroma. This noncancerous, or benign growth, develops on the vestibulocochlear nerve, which forms the connection between the inner ear and our brain*. On the other hand, tinnitus can also be a symptom of a simpler issue, such as ear wax blockage, which is why it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional to get to the bottom of your tinnitus.
If you know someone who is battling with ringing in their ears, or believe that you may have tinnitus, click here or call 1800 340 631 to request an appointment with your local Audika clinic.