One of my friends often suffers from ringing in her ears at night, and as a consequence, doesn’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep in itself can be bad enough, but when phantom noises are what’s keeping you awake, it must be horrible! My friend thinks it’s from those loud rock concerts she went to as a twenty-something, and she could be right – MedicineNet points out loud noise exposure is one of the primary causes of this hearing condition. Other causes can be found here.
Tinnitus is what’s keeping my friend awake at night, and it’s more common than you may think. It affects up to 50,000,000 people in the U.S. alone, and hundreds of millions worldwide, according to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). That’s a lot of people suffering from a hearing condition that has no cure.
I referred to the noises my friend hears as phantom noises, because they’re noises no one else can hear. According to Dr. Neil Bauman, Director for the Center for Hearing Loss Help, the noises differ among people suffering with tinnitus – my friend has that awful ringing; other people may hear hissing, buzzing, humming, chirping, and a variety of other sounds. Dr. Bauman also pointed out that the noises may constantly act up or may appear intermittently. Either way, it doesn’t sound fun.
According to the ATA, some of the treatment options are:
- Medications, such as anti-convulsant drugs or sedatives, as well as anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drugs.
- Sound therapy – One option is called a “tinnitus masker,” an electronic appliance that fits into a person’s ear and makes “white noise” to mask the sounds of tinnitus.*
- Cognitive Therapy
For Further Reading:
- If you suffer from this condition, or you know someone who does, you may want to visit the American Tinnitus Association for support, resources, and the latest research for this hearing condition.
- Tinnitus and Other Phantom Sounds
*Moore, Donnica, M.D. (2009) Women’s Health for Life.