In our last blog we talked about the most precious piece of kit you have, your ears. In this edition, we’re going to talk about a condition that is experienced by approximately 30% of the population at some time in their lives. Tinnitus.
What is tinnitus?
The word tinnitus is Latin, meaning tinkling. It’s when a person hears a sound in their head but can not locate the source from their surroundings. Descriptions of tinnitus range from a tinkling, a ringing, a hissing, an insect and even as music. The volume/frequency of the tinnitus can vary and it may not be a constant sound. It can be experienced in one ear, both ears or centrally in the head. Of the 30% that experience tinnitus, 10% will have a persistent sound, and of those 1 in 10 states that it affects the quality of their life.
There are 4 different types of tinnitus, subjective, neurological, somatic and objective. The most common form is subjective tinnitus that is normally present after noise exposure. There are also subtypes which are musical, pulsatile and low-frequency.
So as a music producer are you at risk?
There are certain risk factors that you might be exposed to that can make you more likely to experience tinnitus. These risk factors are having a hearing loss, exposure to a loud sound, excessive headphone use at loud levels (remember the 60/60 rule, 60 minutes listening at 60% of the volume and then a rest), medications, certain medical conditions, wax occluding the ear canal or stress and anxiety. Not everyone will get tinnitus, though, and the amount it affects a person is different in each case.
Knowing that exposure to loud sounds can cause tinnitus alongside hearing loss, highlights the importance to protect your ears.
If you have tinnitus, want can you do about it?
If you are experiencing a continuous or regular buzzing or ringing in one or both of your ear’s for a prolonged period of time, then you need to speak to a medical practitioner. They will be able to check the health of the ear and ensure that it is not blocked by wax or infected. If appropriate they will refer you to a specialist. Who will take a detailed history about the tinnitus, examine your ears and perform a hearing test. When they talk to you about your tinnitus it is not unusual for them to use a questionnaire and open questions so that they can assess the impact it is having on you.
Then they will devise a treatment plan that is appropriate. Treatment plans may include amplification in the form of a hearing aid if you have a hearing loss, counseling, sound therapy and/or relaxation techniques.
There is no recognized cure for tinnitus but just because you have tinnitus today does not mean that you will have it tomorrow. Tinnitus can be a very serious condition for some individuals, and it has been reported as the cause of suicide.
Awareness and understanding of what tinnitus is and the possible cause is vital in the treatment for an individual. Tinnitus is a huge topic and professionals working in the field of treating people with tinnitus spend many years studying it.