Can You Hear The Bells? But Nobody Else Can?



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You know that ringing you get in your ears when you step out of a concert or a nightclub? That’s called tinnitus. Although, luckily, it’s a temporary bout of it. Tinnitus affects over 50 million US citizens and is no small matter. Whether it’s a quiet ringing that only happens occasionally, or it’s a continuous bell that takes over each part of their life, tinnitus has a lot more depth to it than most people know.

So, what is tinnitus?

It can be recognised by a continuous or intermittent ringing, chirping, white noise or whistling, that no one else can hear. This noise is very often quiet and only noticed when background noise is low or at night. In rare cases, the sensation can beat in time with your heart - known as pulsatile tinnitus. When tinnitus is at a quiet level most of the time, it can just be an annoyance that a person either has to deal with now and again, or that the person can mostly get used to, and it fades into the background - apart from those times when the background noise is quieter than the ringing. But when the ringing is above the level of everyday noise, tinnitus can insert itself into every aspect of a person’s life, preventing them from sleeping, concentrating properly, and can be a massive hindrance in everyday life. It can also cause loss of hearing - in that all other noise is drowned out. In some rare cases, tinnitus can mean that a person’s hearing is more sensitive - known as hyperacusis - and the help they receive is to muffle all sound and not just the ringing.

How is it caused?

Tinnitus can be caused because of various things - all of which causes damage to the inner ear. Infections and blockages can cause it to temporarily appear, and, once the ear has been cleared or healed, it will go away. Sometimes, however, tinnitus can be a lasting effect. Exposing your ears, unprotected, to loud noises can cause temporary or long-lasting tinnitus. A large number of soldiers suffer from it due to gunfire and bombs. And singers can due to how close they are to the sound systems at concerts - which is one of the reasons that they wear earplugs and headphones during their performances. It can also be caused by head or neck damaged due to an accident like a car accident or fall.

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately not. However, as we mentioned before, there are ways in which the tinnitus or the heightened background noise can be muffled. A tinnitus specialist can fit you with a hearing aid. These hearing aids look and work much like a normal hearing aid and can have a great benefit to people suffering from this condition. There are also medications that can be taken to help lessen the symptoms or complications. One common drug is an antidepressant - unsurprisingly taken by those whose tinnitus interrupts every aspect of their lives.

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