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Is It Normal to Have Occasional Tinnitus?

a brown-haired woman touching her ear

Tinnitus is a change in electrical activity that occurs for any reason in the auditory threshold and is perceived by the brain as sound, despite the fact that there is no new sound in the environment. The auditory cortex does not recognize that this activity is not external. It is simply processed as sound and perceives it as a buzzing or ringing. 

Similarly, the brain stem does not know that this new electrical activity is not a threat, and so it reacts as if it were such a threat. The discomfort caused by tinnitus can have a direct effect on the psychological health of patients, as the more they concentrate to get rid of tinnitus, the worse they get, leading to anger and even severe depression. Tinnitus creates different types of sounds within the ear, such as ringing and buzzing, which sounds much worse in the silence. 

Tinnitus may last temporarily for a few days, weeks but in some cases, tinnitus can linger for many years, and become a chronic condition and it is much more common than you may think. These episodes of tinnitus can be uncomfortable but short-term tinnitus is very common for many people, especially following a loud concert or exposure to loud sounds at work.

Causes of tinnitus 

One of the causes of tinnitus can be nightclubs or concerts, but they are very short-lived and soon disappear. Most people with tinnitus hear sounds that are perceived only by them. The source of most subjective tinnitus is unknown. 

Some cases are caused by auditory neuroma and are accompanied by hearing impairment, while it is even more likely to occur if neurosensory hearing loss coexists, in which case they are called idiopathic tinnitus. However, having tinnitus does not mean that there is anything wrong with your hearing; in fact, it may create an even more heightened reaction to sound. 

One way to interpret tinnitus is to have an electrical network with fuses from the hair cells in the cochlea to the inside of the hearing system, which, like any other electrical network, produces electrical noise permanently in the background. Meaning that listening constantly to loud music can actually damage the inside of the ear which can certainly create a worse reaction. 

When our hearing is at normal levels, the brain sets a threshold level so that we do not hear that noise. When hearing loss occurs, regardless of its cause, it may be enough to prevent normal external sounds from reaching the brain. Silence on a frequency range recognized as hearing loss is certified by the brain. 

But our world is not silent, and the absence of sound means that our first warning system is unable to record changes. Therefore, the brain reacts by dropping the threshold to hear better and thus reaches the levels of internal sounds and so the person listens to the functions of his own ear. This means that treatment and trying to correct the tinnitus can be difficult and very trial and error. 

Dealing with tinnitus 

Patients with tinnitus may experience severe stress and even mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Fortunately, most patients are not affected to such an extent, but in any case, you should visit an audiologist to get more information on what can be done and what could be causing the tinnitus. You can have an audiogram to see if the tinnitus is affected or causing any hearing damage but you may find that these test results are completely normal. This is when your audiologist can advise you on what to do next. 

Most forms of tinnitus treatment now work in this way, increasing the volume of external sounds to reduce the importance of internal sounds, so that the brain learns to repel tinnitus in the background and then considers them irrelevant. 

Another way to deal with it is to use loud sounds to remove the tinnitus known as complete concealment, but this is no longer considered the best way to deal with it, because once the concealment is removed, the tinnitus may still be at the same level. While there is no official cure for tinnitus, there are several methods of managing the symptoms. For more information on hearing tests and information relating to tinnitus, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Adirondack Audiology and please call us today at 800-273-9536.