When to Seek Professional Help for Your Tinnitus

November 27, 2023

By Justin Ly


If you’ve found your way here, you might be trying to understand that persistent ringing or buzzing in your ears. This sensation is known as tinnitus, and you’re not alone in experiencing it.

Tinnitus is a condition many Australians encounter. It’s when you perceive sounds that aren’t present externally. These can range from a faint humming to a more noticeable whistling and can be consistent or intermittent. So, what’s the cause of tinnitus? Several possible causes include exposure to loud noises or certain underlying health conditions.

We’re here to guide you through the ins and outs of tinnitus, offering reliable information to help you navigate this experience. Let’s dive in.

Common Symptoms Associated with Tinnitus

Tinnitus is more than just “ringing in the ears”. It can manifest in various sounds, and its nuances can be different for everyone. If you believe you may be experiencing tinnitus, it’s useful to familiarise yourself with its common symptoms:

Types of Sounds:

  • Ringing: The classic sound many associate with tinnitus.
  • Buzzing: Similar to the distant sound of a busy bee.
  • Hissing: Continuous, like the release of air from a tyre.
  • Whistling: Sometimes fluctuating in pitch.
  • Clicking: Intermittent and often rhythmic.

Variance in Volume: The loudness can change from day to day. Some may find it a soft background noise, while others feel it’s more intrusive.

Changes in Pitch: Tinnitus isn’t restricted to a single pitch. It can range from a low rumble to a high squeal. Some even hear multiple tones simultaneously.

Persistence of the Sound: The duration and regularity of tinnitus vary. It can be constant or come and go, appearing more pronounced at certain times or under specific circumstances.

Everyone’s journey with tinnitus is unique. Recognising these symptoms can be the first step in understanding and addressing the condition more effectively.

When ‘Annoying’ Becomes ‘Alarming’

For many, tinnitus starts as a mild annoyance — a distant ringing or buzzing that can be easily dismissed or overlooked. But similar to the noise of a kettle left on for too long, sometimes that faint noise can become increasingly hard to ignore. More importantly, it might signal that something deeper is going on.

While many Australians live with mild tinnitus without it causing significant disruption to their daily lives, it’s essential to stay alert to signs that the condition may be intensifying or pointing to another health concern.

1. Rapid Onset or Intensification

If your tinnitus suddenly becomes louder or more disruptive without an apparent reason, it’s worth noting.

2. One-Sided Tinnitus

Experiencing tinnitus in just one ear, especially if it’s a new development, can be a sign to seek advice.

3. Accompanied Symptoms

Tinnitus that comes hand in hand with dizziness, balance problems, or sudden hearing loss should prompt more immediate attention.

4. Pulsatile Tinnitus

If your tinnitus has a rhythmic beat mimicking your heartbeat, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. This can sometimes be associated with blood vessel conditions.

5. Changes in Pattern

If you’ve had stable tinnitus for a long time and suddenly notice changes in its pattern, frequency, or nature, it’s a good idea to check in with a professional.

Remember, our bodies have a way of letting us know when something’s not quite right. If your tinnitus transforms from mild irritation to a more pressing concern, don’t hesitate to seek advice. It’s always better to be safe and informed.

Tinnitus Triggered by Specific Events

Life is full of events, big and small. Some of these events, though, can leave an unexpected mark in the form of tinnitus. While the onset of tinnitus might be gradual or seemingly random for many, others can pinpoint a specific event that started it all. Let’s explore some of these scenarios.

1. Loud Noise Exposure

Example: You’ve just had a blast at a concert or a footy match, but the next day, there’s a persistent ringing in your ears. This can be a sign of noise-induced hearing damage.

Why it matters: Our ears are delicate instruments. Excessive noise can damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, leading to tinnitus. If you’ve got a sudden onset of tinnitus after a loud event, it’s a clear signal to protect your ears better in the future and possibly see a professional.

2. Head or Neck Injuries

Example: A car accident, a fall, or any trauma to the head or neck area can sometimes lead to tinnitus.

Why it matters: Injuries might impact how our brain processes sound, triggering tinnitus. If you’ve had a recent injury and notice tinnitus soon after, don’t delay a medical consultation.

3. Illness or Infections

Example: Some illnesses, especially those affecting the ear, like ear infections or sinusitis, can be tinnitus culprits.

Why it matters: The onset of tinnitus after an illness might indicate an underlying issue that needs attention. It’s always wise to consult a GP or an audiologist in such cases.

When tinnitus suddenly appears after specific events, it’s a nudge from our bodies, urging us to pay attention. It’s essential to recognise these triggers and, when in doubt, seek a professional’s guidance sooner rather than later. After all, being proactive about our health is always a good shout.

Tinnitus and Hearing Loss – The Connection

Tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand in hand. In many cases, damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, which are crucial for transmitting sound signals to the brain, can result in both tinnitus and a reduced ability to hear.

How It Manifests

Subtle Beginning: For some, the onset of hearing loss is gradual. You might find you’re asking people to repeat themselves more often, or you’re turning up the volume on the TV a bit higher than before. Coupled with tinnitus, these can be early indicators of hearing changes.

Sudden Changes: On the other hand, some individuals experience a sudden drop in hearing or a rapid increase in tinnitus intensity. This can be alarming and is a definite sign that something’s amiss.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait

Early Detection: Like many health concerns, early detection of hearing issues can lead to better outcomes. If you suspect your hearing is deteriorating alongside your tinnitus, seeking help sooner can make a difference.

Comprehensive Care: Audiologists and hearing professionals can provide hearing tests and guidance on managing tinnitus and potential treatments for both conditions.

Indeed, while tinnitus and hearing loss are two separate entities, they’re often closely linked. A shift in one can be a tell-tale sign of changes in the other.

If tinnitus or hearing loss is impacting your life, don’t hesitate. Engaging with a professional audiologist can offer clarity and support.

How Freedom Hearing Can Help

At Freedom Hearing, we pride ourselves on our expertise and dedication to each individual’s hearing health. Our team of professionals is equipped to assess your situation, provide guidance, and tailor a solution that best fits your needs. Why navigate this journey alone when you have a trusted partner in us?

📞 Give us a call at 1300 689 085 or 📅 Book a Free Hearing Check today and let Freedom Hearing be your guide to better hearing health.

Book your FREE hearing check