The sound of silence? Never again for 1 in 5 of us. Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tus) is a perception of ringing, humming, or buzzing in the ears. Almost everyone has experienced this at one point or another. But is it something to worry about or is it just a nuisance? In most cases you will experience tinnitus after attending loud live music events that typically reach 95 decibels or higher. This tinnitus is usually gone by the morning, but you have probably sustained permanent damage to the tiny hair cells, or nerve endings, in your inner ear. The more often you are exposed to noise over 85 decibels, the more damage occurs, which can result in a ringing that never stops. Tinnitus is a symptom not a disease. It is most often a symptom of noise induced hearing loss, although there are other underlying causes for tinnitus such as cardiovascular disease, ear wax, head injury, Meniere’s disease, ear infections, and others. Some with hearing loss don’t experience tinnitus at all. Constant tinnitus can be emotionally debilitating and cause extreme anxiety and depression in some individuals. The severity of tinnitus is not measured by the perceived loudness of the ringing, but rather now much it affects the individual on an emotional level. Some individuals will go to great lengths and cost to “cure” tinnitus and after much effort realize their tinnitus is here to stay. Most people with tinnitus have accepted this and learn to manage and find techniques that minimize the annoyance of it. However, there is a small percentage of people who find the nuisance debilitating and rate their tinnitus as extreme. There are many claims online and on drug store shelves that say taking a pill will cure tinnitus. There is no cure, so please don’t waste your money on it. It can help as a placebo effect though. Some methods have been scientifically proven to help manage tinnitus. There has been proven success with cognitive behavioural therapy, hearing aids, noise machines or maskers, and other techniques. In a future article I can get into how these help with tinnitus. If you have constant tinnitus you should mention this to your doctor and have your hearing tested. If you’d like to learn more about options to help your tinnitus or have your hearing tested you can contact me at (905)929-4327 or book an appointment online at www.opendoorhearing.ca. 165 Locke St. S. Hamilton.