Tinnitus is a common health condition, which is best described as people “hearing” noises that are not physically real. The condition is surprisingly common, with 20 million people in the US suffering from what is describing as “burdensome chronic tinnitus,” and many more cases of milder or temporary tinnitus.

Below, we have put together a simple guide to the things that everyone needs to know about tinnitus, including its causes, its treatment, and what you should do if you suspect you are experiencing it.

Tinnitus noises are variable

Many people who have not experienced tinnitus would describe it using the common term of “ringing in the ears”. However, people with tinnitus often find that they don’t experience ringing at all.

The noises produced by tinnitus are incredibly diverse and vary from person to person. While some people may experience the classic ringing, others will hear beeps, clicks, whistles, or even just the sound of their own heartbeat. Essentially, if you notice you are hearing any sound that is not produced by an external factor, then you may be experiencing tinnitus.

Tinnitus is both a condition and a symptom

Some health conditions, such as TMJ syndrome or disorders of the blood vessels, list tinnitus as a symptom. People who experience tinnitus as a symptom are often able to resolve their tinnitus by treating the underlying illness.

However, in many cases, tinnitus is a standalone condition that is not related to other health problems. Sometimes, tinnitus just develops of its own accord, with little obvious reason for it – which can make it more difficult to treat.

Tinnitus can be chronic or acute

Some people experience tinnitus for a short period of time, which is known as acute tinnitus. In contrast, others may experience chronic tinnitus, which is generally considered to be tinnitus that lasts for longer than six months.

However, there is no way of knowing whether an occurrence of tinnitus will be acute or chronic when it first develops, so seeking further advice from a medical professional or audiologist is always the best course of action.

Tinnitus can be treated

Tinnitus has a reputation for being very difficult to treat, and there is no denying that this is a reputation well merited. However, there are options available that are well worth exploring. These range from techniques such as cognitive therapy, which can help a person to manage their response to tinnitus, to practical solutions such as noise masking hearing aids. While treating tinnitus is rarely straightforward, the condition can be managed effectively with the help of training professionals.

Seek help if you experience tinnitus

Tinnitus can greatly harm a person’s enjoyment of their life, and can even cause secondary issues such as insomnia. As a result, if you do experience tinnitus, it’s important to seek the advice from either your doctor or an audiologist.

Having read through the above, you can be confident that you know the basics of this condition, how it manifests, and how tinnitus can be managed should you be affected by it yourself.