Unattainable Silence:
The Tinnitus Battle

Hush.

The radio is off. The television is muted. The baby isn't crying. The cars aren't zooming by. The boss isn't barking orders.

Silence.

It's a precious commodity that increases in value as each hectic day passes. It's solitude, an escape, a mental break from our busy lives. Imagine life without silence. For the estimated 50 million suffers of tinnitus, life is never quiet, even when the world around them is tranquil and still. For them, life without silence is a reality.

According the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus is the perception of ringing, hissing, or other sound in the ears or head when no external sound is present. For some, this constant buzz is annoying, for others, it's debilitating. Although tinnitus is a significant problem in and of itself, it is truly an underlying symptom to a greater condition, such as hearing loss, allergies, high blood pressure or inadequate kidney function.

Causes
The only way to determine a cause of tinnitus is to directly link a specific factor with the appearance and disappearance of the symptoms. Otherwise, exact triggers might go undetected. Some documented causes include:
  • Noise exposure
  • Blows to the head
  • Large doses of certain drugs such as aspirin and other ototoxins
  • Anemia
  • Hypertension
  • Stress
  • Impacted ear wax
  • Certain types of tumors
What Now?
If you are experiencing ringing or humming in one or both of your ears when there is no external noise source, the first step is to have your hearing evaluated by a certified audiologist. Hearing loss is irreversible, but treatment can help minimize the distractions due to tinnitus. If there is no hearing damage, you should seek a medical examination to find the root of the problem.

Prevention
In many cases, factors contributing to the onset of tinnitus cannot be directly avoided. But, when exposure to loud noise is the cause, you can avoid tinnitus. Once hearing damaged has occurred, it cannot be reversed. Due to the severity of this condition, it is in your best interest to care for your hearing by avoiding exposure to loud noises. Some steps you can take to ensure the health of your hearing and avoidance of noise-induced tinnitus include:
  • Wear earplugs when attending loud events such as concerts or action movies.
  • Educate yourself and those around you about the danger of loud environments.
Clearly, silence is an under appreciated asset that suffers of tinnitus can only experience through memories. Taking the proper steps to protect your delicate auditory components from excessive noise might be the preventative measure that enables you to avoid this painful condition.


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