Tinnitus: What are the Sounds in my Ears & Why do I Hear Them?

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Most people have experienced tinnitus at some point in their lives. Tinnitus is a subjective, phantom sound your brain produces in response to change in auditory sensation.

Occasional onsets of tinnitus might occur after being exposed to damaging levels of loud noise, for example at a concert or construction worksite. At first, these instances of ringing or buzzing might resolve within a few hours.

However, tinnitus can become permanent and some will experience it constantly, a potentially bothersome problem.

Learn More About Tinnitus

Why do I get tinnitus?

Tinnitus is most often a symptom of auditory damage, typically associated with a loss of hearing. Most hearing loss occurs in the high-frequency sounds and therefore people often describe their tinnitus as a high-pitched ringing, buzzing or cicada-like noise. When we test your hearing, we expect your perceived tinnitus will match the pitch where your hearing is the worst.

Think of tinnitus like phantom limb pain – if you have an amputated limb, you might “feel” pain stemming from the lost limb. This is your brain trying to reconnect what it has lost. Tinnitus is exactly the same. The ringing or buzzing you hear is not a measurable sound, rather it is your clever brain trying to fill in the signals you have lost.

What can I do about my tinnitus?

While there is no “cure” for tinnitus, the root cause of most people’s tinnitus is hearing loss. When we treat hearing loss, we are stimulating damaged frequency regions of the ear. Your brain notices the improvement in hearing and therefore might reduce the amount of perceivable tinnitus. Many people who wear hearing aids notice their tinnitus is less bothersome, and some people report no tinnitus at all while wearing their hearing aids.

Tinnitus is extremely subjective and can have varying causes, therefore it requires a consultation with a qualified audiologist to determine the most suitable treatment pathway. Depending on the cause of your tinnitus or hearing loss, you may qualify for some government funding assistance.

To begin your journey, book a diagnostic hearing evaluation with your local hearing expert at a New Zealand Hearing clinic.

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