If you’re in the music industry, chances are you’ve had a bout of ringing in your ears at some point, and maybe it’s now even there permanently. Maybe the sound you’re hearing is a rushing sound, or a series of high frequency clicks, or even white noise. If that’s the case, the condition is known as Tinnitus and it relates to sounds that you hear that are not part of the outside world.
You might have been aware of your tinnitus for a while, but here are a number of things that you might not have known as about it.
It’s actually a brain malfunction. We think of tinnitus as something wrong with our hearing, but the disease only manifests itself that way. While the exact cause isn’t yet known, it appears to come about after a big physical or mental change of some type. Many times it occurs after listening at too loud a level or an ear infection, but the fact is that what you’re hearing are sounds that are being created inside your brain, not in your ear.
It’s not always the result of hearing damage. Stress, a cold, or even excessive earwax can be factors in it developing. One problem is that when people get stressed out about the noise, that exacerbates it even more causing a viscous circle.
People that are hard of hearing or even deaf can experience it. As stated above, it’s a brain malfunction, so actual hearing doesn’t have much to do with it.
Sometimes your doctor can hear your tinnitus as well. Yep, a real pitch is generated so that someone close to you can hear it. This is called Objective Tinnitus and is caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition, or muscle contractions. It’s a pretty rare condition though.
There’s no cure yet. There’s only therapy or learning to live with it (which the vast majority of suffers do). If you don’t have it, or only get it occasionally, the best thing is to wear hearing protection and keep your stress level down (not always easy for a musician). It’s worth looking at the tinnitus page from the Mayo Clinic as well.
As I’m writing this, both my ears are raging with about an 8kHz sawtooth wave. The good thing is I know that I’ll forget about it later and it will pretty much disappear. If you have it too, I hope this happens for you as well.