Tinnitus is the perception of a certain sound or sounds – often described as some
kind of ringing – when no noise is actually present. While it is most commonly
referred to as “ringing”, tinnitus can reveal itself in a vast array of sounds and is
experienced by almost 50 million Americans today. Severity ranges from temporary
conditions to extreme (but rare) chronic cases where the tinnitus has driven the
victim to insanity. Severe cases aside, the most common result of tinnitus is anxiety
and increased blood pressure due to the stress of constant buzzing or ringing in the
ears.
Hearing damage is permanent – there is no cure and no treatment for hearing
damage at this time. So, while you might think this blog is beginning to sound like a
broken record (also a symptom of certain rare cases of tinnitus), we can’t stress
enough how important it is to protect your hearing! Tinnitus is commonly
associated with some form of damage to the auditory system. This hearing loss can
be a result of two causes:

-Presbycusis or age-related hearing loss. After the age of 60, hearing
typically deteriorates beginning with the sensory loss of high-
frequency sounds bilaterally (in both ears). Age-related hearing loss
offers one explanation as to why tinnitus is more prevalent among the
elderly.
– Noise-induced hearing loss. Damage to the auditory system causing
hearing loss and sometimes tinnitus can be a result of exposure to loud
noises. This type of damage can be from a single traumatic experience
or from continual exposure over time. Exposure to traumatic noise can
happen virtually anywhere: loud machinery at work or in the yard,
sporting events (hunting and shooting sports, especially), concerts, and
even in traffic (sirens, horns, and backfiring engines). Noise induced
hearing loss can occur both unilaterally or bilaterally, and typically
affects the individuals sensitivity to sounds around the frequency of
the traumatic noise.

Researchers are still working to uncover the exact biological process by which
hearing loss results in tinnitus. It is now known that specific changes in how our
brains process sound occur after the loss of certain frequencies due to hearing
damage. Basically, tinnitus may be the brain’s response to a lack of external stimuli
by way of filling in the missing sound frequencies it is no longer receiving from the
auditory system.
It is worth mentioning that even though hearing loss may not be observable to an
individual, that doesn’t mean that hearing damage isn’t present. It is recommended
that you visit a trained hearing health professional capable of performing a sensitive
audiometric test to precisely measure the true extent of possible hearing loss and
explore options for preventing future damage.