How common is tinnitus?
Although the general translation of the latin word tinnitus means ‘to ring’, this does not mean that only people who have a ringing noise in their ears have ‘tinnitus’. That is, tinnitus is defined as ANY sound that is heard by an individual that has not come from the environment around them.
Approximately 1 in 6 people experience tinnitus, which equates to almost 4 million people in Australia. However, the level of tinnitus disturbance will vary significantly from patient to patient. Therefore it has been estimated that of the 4 million people who experience tinnitus, 1.1 million people may be moderately disturbed by their tinnitus enough to seek a medical opinion, and almost 200,000 people are severely disturbed by their tinnitus on a daily basis.
What Can Be Done?
Probably the most common question we receive is “what can be done about tinnitus?”. People experiencing tinnitus want to know (understandably) if there is a cure. Well, the answer to those questions depends on the cause of an individuals tinnitus. For example, in simple cases tinnitus can be caused from too much wax in the ear canals. If this is the case, then simply removing the wax can “cure” the tinnitus.
In other cases the tinnitus can be caused from an ear condition, which may be able to be treated medically or with surgical intervention to hopefully reduce or “cure” the tinnitus.
For many, the tinnitus is caused by a change in the auditory system for which there is no medication or surgical options, therefore in these cases a “cure” is unlikely. However this does not mean it cannot be treated.
These are just a few of the many examples of things that can cause tinnitus, therefore it is important to understand that there is not ‘a one size fits all’ answer. For this reason, the first step to see what can be done about your tinnitus is a full tinnitus assessment, and with these results the audiologist at Focus Hearing will be able to inform you of your options on what can done to reduce your tinnitus.
Our Tinnitus Assessment
A full tinnitus assessment with our tinnitus specialist is the first step toward understanding the mechanisms of your tinnitus and therefore what can be done to help reduce your tinnitus. At Focus Hearing we allocate 1.5 hours for a tinnitus assessment and the cost of this is $220 which is payable on the day.
The causes of tinnitus are numerous, therefore every tinnitus assessment begins with a thorough history and discussion regarding the tinnitus, your hearing and ear health, and general health among other things. We will also ask you to complete specific tinnitus questionnaires to help us understand how the tinnitus impacts on you as an individual.
Then the testing comprises of the following:
- a visual inspection of the outer ear (ear canal) to ensure their is no physical blockage such as wax or a foreign body causing the tinnitus
- If significant wax is present the audiologist at Focus Hearing has been specifically trained in wax removal and in most cases this can be done on the spot.
- a measure of the function of the middle-ear. This will help to identify a problem with the middle ear that would typically result in a referral to your GP or ENT specialist to determine whether medical intervention may be required.
- a full diagnostic high frequency audiogram, which is a measure of the softest sounds you can hear at a range of frequencies that are important for speech perception. This test is administered under headphones. The reason this test is performed is that it is very common for the frequency of a person’s tinnitus to correspond to a loss of hearing sensitivity
- A speech in noise test
- The tinnitus assessment also involves subjective measurements of your tinnitus pitch and loudness using the latest equipment. This information is helpful to determine the most appropriate tinnitus management program for you.
At the end of the testing, the tinnitus audiologist will fully explain the results and what we then know about the cause of your tinnitus, and therefore what we can then do about it.
If we find that your tinnitus is caused by something that can be treated medically we will recommend you be reviewed by your GP or Ear Specialist (ENT surgeon) to assess and where necessary offer treatment.
If the cause of your tinnitus does not warrant medical intervention, then our audiologist will discuss with you the most appropriate treatment options to reduce how intrusive the tinnitus is. Focus Hearing has access to the latest in tinnitus treatment options including tinnitus specific devices from leading manufacturers.