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My Ears Are Ringing! What is tinnitus?


What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the medical term for a ringing or other discernible noise in the ears. The sound can be different for each person:

  • whistling
  • clicking
  • ringing
  • and many others

There is in fact no external sound source, making the condition very frustrating, often impacting an individual’s ability to hear external sounds.

What is the cause of tinnitus?

Tinnitus has many causes.  These can range from a wax blockage, stress and periods of excessive noise exposure to more permanent causes such as hearing loss or a head injury. 

How can I prevent tinnitus?

Protecting your hearing is key. Wearing earplugs or removing yourself from prolonged exposure to loud noise helps protect your hearing and in turn helps prevent tinnitus. You should especially protect your hearing when exposed to noise at or above the 85-decibel limit.

How do I know what 85 Decibels is?

Imagine a large group of people talking at one time, that is about 85 decibels. A useful rule of thumb is, if you need to shout to be heard, you may be exposed to excessive noise and need to protect yourself. Go to your doctor if you are experiencing any pain or change in hearing ability.

Can tinnitus be cured?

When tinnitus is caused by physical conditions, the treatment of those conditions can help prevent further issues.  In these cases, the medical investigation and treatment of those conditions should always be the priority.

Helping our brain react differently to tinnitus is another way to manage the condition.  Our brain protects us from danger by keeping a close eye on anything it considers threatening.  By working on the way we perceive the tinnitus, we are giving the brain permission to stand down and tune out the tinnitus knowing that we will not be in danger. Options such as relaxation exercises and breathing techniques can be very helpful in achieving this.

Medications: There are some medications that can lessen the effects of tinnitus, this will require a discussion with your doctor.

What can you change?

Avoid loud noise or protect your hearing when you’re unable to avoid it.

Avoid stress when you can – work on stress relief when you can’t.

Takes breaks where possible.

Talk about it with people.

Non-medical support

There is technology available to assist with the symptoms caused by tinnitus. A hearing therapist can discuss these options with you.

Do I need Hearing aids?

Hearing aids can help some people, not all, so talk to a hearing therapist.

Have I really got tinnitus?

The first step is talk to your doctor, they will likely suggest you require a hearing test, so plan to visit a hearing therapist.

What happens at a hearing test?

A hearing test can identify hearing loss.  It is a simple, non-invasive test where you respond to tones by pushing a button. Quick and easy, it can identify issues that may need to be investigated further.

What is a hearing therapist?

A hearing therapist is a qualified professional who assists people who have concerns regarding their hearing.

This may include:

  • Different ways to manage communication.
  • Information about hearing and other services.
  • Information on hearing aids and alerting technology.
  • Teaching people how to get the best out of their hearing aids.
  • Information about hearing conditions, including referral to other services as needed.

People can self-refer to our service, or be referred, for example, by their doctor or another specialist service.

Contact a hearing therapist.

Your Way | Kia Roha hearing therapists provide free hearing assessments, information, hearing tests and support to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents aged 16 years and over.

Our service is independent. We don’t sell or fit hearing aids but give independent advice about using hearing aids and other listening devices.

Our hearing therapists are trained in helping clients with the emotional effects of hearing loss and other associated difficulties with the use of counselling skills and tools and can offer practical advice, information and help.

Call 0800 008 011 to book your free appointment with a qualified hearing therapist. Or book an appointment by completing the online form.

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