Tinnitus or ringing in the ears: what are the different possible causes?

Sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, irritability, fatigue, hearing loss… Tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in the ears, can be complicated.

These “parasitic noises” are heard by around 25% of the French population, without being diagnosed in all patients.

Whistling, ringing in the ears… The different types of tinnitus

As specialists remind us, there is not tinnitus, but tinnitus. These unpleasant hearing sensations vary from person to person, are sometimes heard in only one ear, and can be of different intensity: some will hear a whistling, others buzzing, or even tapping.

“Having tinnitus with a low intensity does not mean that one is less embarrassed. On the contrary, when an ENT measures the intensity of someone’s tinnitus with the help of a tinnitus, he may find that the intensity was much stronger in his previous patient who nevertheless felt less discomfort… It’s all a question of feeling! “, explains Roselyne Nicolas, President of the France Acouphènes association.

Ringing in the ears: the possible causes of these parasitic noises

“Contrary to what we sometimes think, having tinnitus is real, the sounds really exist, and it’s not psychological or imaginary”, specifies the specialist.

While anyone can suffer from tinnitus one day, some people are at higher risk, such as:

  • People who work in a noisy environment (in a factory, workshop, openspace, etc.)
  • People who experience hearing loss
  • People who are used to listening to music at a high volume

Other factors exist that increase the risk of hearing these parasitic noises, temporarily or permanently, such as:

  • Exposure to high noise levels during concerts, nightclubs, etc.
  • Strong fatigue
  • A period of intense stress
  • An emotional shock (the loss of a loved one, a painful separation …)
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Cholesterol
  • Taking certain drug treatments
  • Hyperacusis (poor tolerance to noise)

Other possible causes of tinnitus can also be:

  • Earwax plug (which is an abnormal buildup of earwax in the ear canal)
  • Otitis
  • Ménière’s syndrome (which refers to a disorder of the inner ear)

Tinnitus: how to live better with it?

“Even though tinnitus is not dangerous, it can be a real annoyance on a daily basis. This constant noise in the ears can interfere with attention and concentration, especially when the person is in complete silence (if they are reading by example or works) “, explains the president of the association.

This ringing in the ears can be tiring, annoying, and can become unbearable.

The consequences of tinnitus can be:

  • Intense fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Concentration disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

To date, despite research, no treatment can permanently get rid of these parasitic noises, but some methods allow you to learn to live with them better.

After diagnosis, if ringing in the ears is associated with hearing loss, hearing aids may be offered to increase hearing capacity.

An alternative exists for patients who suffer from tinnitus, but who would not have hearing loss: a hearing aid that generates white noise, which “camouflage” parasitic noises heard. “The idea of ​​these devices is to make a different sound heard brain to distract from the tinnitus. “, specifies Roselyne Nicolas.

To learn how to put these ringing in the ears at bay, behavioral therapy, sophrology or any other anti-stress method can help.

Thanks to Roselyne Nicolas, President of the France Acouphènes association,

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