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Tinnitus is a particularly debilitating condition (see the THI below to measure the impact of Tinnitus on your life) which can have a severe impact on a persons quality of life - the good news is that a remedy is available and we have successfully treated patients suffering from Tinnitus by fitting hearing aids. We have provided information on Tinnitus below. It is however important to make a few points clear:
Types of Tinnitus
The rarer form, consists of head noises audible to other people in addition to the sufferer. The noises are usually caused by vascular anomalies, repetitive muscle contractions, or inner ear structural defects. The sounds are heard by the sufferer and are generally external to the auditory system. This form of tinnitus means that an examiner can hear the sound heard by the sufferer by using a stethoscope. Benign causes, such as noise from TMJ, openings of the Eustachian tubes, or repetitive muscle contractions may be the cause of objective tinnitus. The sufferer might hear the pulsatile flow of the carotid artery or the continuous hum of normal venous outflow through the jugular vein when in a quiet setting. It can also be an early sign of increased intracranial pressure and is often overshadowed by other neurologic abnormalities. The sounds may arise from a turbulent flow through compressed venous structures at the base of the brain.
This form of tinnitus may occur anywhere in the auditory system and is much less understood, with the causes being many and open to debate. Anything from the ear canal to the brain may be involved. The sounds can range from a metallic ringing, buzzing, blowing, roaring, or sometimes similar to a clanging, popping, or non-rhythmic beating. It can be accompanied by audiometric evidence of deafness which occurs in association with both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Other conditions and syndromes which may have tinnitus in conjunction with the condition or syndrome, are otosclerosis, Menier's syndrome, and cochlear or auditory nerve lesions.
Hearing loss, hyperacusis, recruitment, FMS, and balance problems may or may not be present in conjunction with tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a condition which can result from a wide range of underlying causes, including sensorineural hearing loss or congenital hearing loss - however the most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus is common: about 20% of people between 55 and 65 years old report symptoms on a general health questionnaire, and 11.8% on more detailed tinnitus-specific questionnaires
As tinnitus is usually a subjective phenomenon, it is difficult to measure using objective tests, such as by comparison with noise of known frequency and intensity, as in an audiometric test. The condition is often rated clinically on a simple scale from "slight" to "catastrophic" according to the practical difficulties it imposes, such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.
Facts on Tinnitus:
The Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) is an internationally recognised standard questionnaire designed to determine the impact of tinnitus on your lifestyle and general quality of life. By fitting hearing aids, with patients who could benefit from hearing aids, we aim to achieve a change of two grade levels; however we are often able to achieve more. Some of the questions may not apply to you, please answer them all with the best possible answer. Also note that the the THI serves as an indication of how tinnitus can impact your life - it is not to say that scoring a a lower grade means that you do not require treatment, or that you will not benefit from treatment.