A hiss, a buzz, a click. There are several forms that tinnitus can take. Tinnitus is a disturbance of the auditory system that makes you hear a sound that is not coming from any external source. For this reason, it is called the phantom sound. Its characteristics vary from person to person, but in some cases tinnitus can be so intense as to impact the quality of life of those affected. How can the patient try to manage the disorder? We talk about it with Dr. Stefano Miceli, Humanitas’ otorhinolaryngologist.
Noises and tinnitus
Tinnitus can be associated with various disorders of the ear, such as otitis or earwax accumulation, up to physiological losses of hearing due to aging. According to estimates, between 4% and 7% of the adult population would be affected.
To get an idea of what tinnitus can be, just think of the feeling you get after listening to loud music at a concert or disco. But while this is a temporary sensation, which goes away within a few hours, tinnitus, instead, is permanent. «Surely – adds Dr. Miceli – exposure to loud noises over long periods of time can cause alterations in the inner ear that can also occur with tinnitus. »
Tinnitus can last for many hours, affecting your ability to concentrate and consequently the performance of daily activities. The triggering factors may include stress, but not alcohol and irritants such as caffeine or cigarette addiction: «It is not possible to establish a certain relation between particular voluptuous habits and the onset of tinnitus. However, in many subjects this issue varies in relation to emotional states and in this sense, we can relate the worsening of the symptom in some periods of particular stress», recalls the specialist.
Tinnitus can also interfere with night-time rest, but something can be done in that case. For example, you can try to “cover” the tinnitus with white noises or music at low volume: «Surely this is a good precaution that can be used in the evening, before falling asleep, because in silence the disorder caused by tinnitus can be more intensely perceived», underlines Dr. Miceli. «The presence of a background noise – he concludes – can help as it “distracts” the brain from tinnitus and this can help to fall asleep more serenely».