It is this time of year when crickets begin to chirp in our gardens and homes. It reminded me of a friend’s day who just can’t stand the sound of these little beetles – it drives them crazy. So imagine what it must be like to live with this kind of noise every day and not be able to call the pest inspector! This is the experience of millions of people who suffer from tinnitus.

Tinnitus is most commonly described as “ringing” in the ears, but can also occur as ringing, hissing, scratching, or even clicking. It can be continuous, intermittent, or pulsed. Tinnitus in itself is not a disease, but a symptom of a possible problem with the hearing system that affects the ears and brain. One of the main causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises (machines or loud music).

Tinnitus is usually also associated with hearing loss, but it can also be due to something as simple as wax that affects the eardrum, or a tumor in the auditory nerve. When tinnitus is caused by an underlying hearing loss, patients who seek help often report an immediate change in the strength of their tinnitus – until it completely disappears – when they have been fitted with a hearing aid. If you suffer from tinnitus, it is important that you see your doctor and have your hearing checked by a qualified audiologist.

When it comes to treating tinnitus, there is no “one size fits all”. There are many different and varied options that you should best discuss with your audiologist. However, there are a number of simple things you can try yourself to treat tinnitus. Try reducing the amount of caffeine and alcohol in your diet (yes, that means you may need to skip this cup of coffee or a glass of blush). Take the time to relax and relieve anxiety and stress in your life. and avoid loud noises (use earmuffs, for example, to mow the lawn).

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