August 15, 2007 by Martin Fortin
Rare are the people who have never, at one time or another, experienced a ringing or buzzing sound inside their ears.

This is called tinnitus, a symptom which is commonplace and quickly forgotten when it occurs only occasionally. But with certain persons, tinnitus is permanent and can become a real nightmare.

In fact, hearing noise 24 hours a day is enough to drive even the sanest of individuals crazy!

This phenomenon affects roughly 15% of the population. You are therefore not alone. This annoying and uncomfortable noise varies from one person to another. Some persons get used to this incessant noise in their ears relatively easily, whereas others become desperate.

In fact, about 0.5% of the population who has been identified as having tinnitus feels disturbed by it significantly. This is quite understandable: trouble sleeping, difficulties with concentration, irritability, social isolation and anxiety are but some of the repercussions on the daily lives of these persons.

To this day, we do not know exactly what the physiological mechanism which causes tinnitus is. We know, however, that there are several risk factors involved.

Here are the most frequent ones:

  • Aging, an injury to the head or neck, exposure to excessive noise, certain illnesses (ear infections (otitis media), otospongiosis, Paget’s disease, Ménière’s syndrome, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, anxiety, depression, ear cancer…), stress, allergies to certain medications which are considered ototoxic (toxic for the ear), all can cause tinnitus (for more information, see your pharmacist).
  • Contrary to what we believe, tinnitus is not a hopeless situation, although its cause is hard to identify. This is why the different types of therapies that are recognized do not seek to eliminate tinnitus, but rather to reduce the situations where said condition has a tendency to diminish your quality of life.

Here are a few helpful hints which can better help you to tolerate your tinnitus:

  • Learn to relax. Relaxation techniques can come in very handy;
  • Keep yourself busy by working or with leisure activities;
  • Try to forget about your tinnitus;
  • Exercise regularly and eat well (see Canada’s Food Guide)
  • See to it that you do not sleep during the daytime.

If your tinnitus preoccupies you, consult the audiologists who practice in theLobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinics to conduct an evaluation of your hearing. They will help you to find the solutions to improve your quality of life.