Tinnitus is a hearing condition where people hear noises, hisses or hums that have no external source and is often called ‘ringing in the ears’
It can be constant or occasional, loud or soft, mild or severe and can be heard in one or both ears or “in the head”. People develop tinnitus because there is damage in their auditory system. It may start because of damage to the inner ear, but it is actually generated by the brain.
A damaged inner ear deprived of sound can send messages to the brain when there is not sound present in the real world. These messages are saved in the emotional centre of the brain and can lead to stress and anxiety.
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of other hearing conditions. There are many causes but exposure to loud industrial noise or loud music is the most common one.
Tinnitus often manifests as a symptom of other underlying conditions, such as hearing loss, ear injury or circulatory system disorders and some cases the impact of tinnitus on the lives of people can be greater than the impact of the underlying condition that causes it.
PEOPLE HAVE TINNITUS?
Estimates of prevalence vary greatly around the world, but the Australian government accept that about one in three people in Australia have experienced tinnitus at some point in their life and about one in six struggles everyday with constant tinnitus
Between 70 and 85 per cent of people with hearing loss suffer from tinnitus, and it is not only older people who are affected.
A study by Hearing Australia (formally known as Australian Hearing), a federal government agency, showed that up to 70% of people aged 18 to 35 years have experienced tinnitus and 16% experience it more than once a week.
33% MAJOR DEPRESSION
Studies have established links between depression and anxiety for people with tinnitus to the extent that 45 per cent of tinnitus sufferers experience anxiety and 33 per report major depression.
2% VERY DISTRESSING
We believe, after careful review of available studies, that tinnitus is present in more than 90% of the population, that around 30% of people become aware of their tinnitus, between 15% and 20% of people report constant tinnitus and about 2% of people in Australia, or about 500,000 people find their tinnitus very distressing.
For these people, the impact of tinnitus on a person’s life can be devastating, increasing risk of depression, anxiety and even suicidal ideation.
HOW CAN I GET HELP?
If you are experiencing tinnitus
for the first time, it may be helpful
to know that you are not alone.
Some people fear that their tinnitus
will get worse forever, but that isn’t true.
Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease, one that changes over time in response to many factors, including our health. Working with your audiologist you can slowly understand the things that make your tinnitus better, or worse, as you work towards management. The more we understand our tinnitus, the more we can regain control and actively work towards reducing its impact on our life.
Your tinnitus may be the result of a simple issue, like wax build up in your ears, the effect of medications or exposure to loud noise. The first step is to get in touch with an audiologist who can check your hearing and help you understand your tinnitus and discuss a management plan.
The British Tinnitus Association sponsors a great introduction to tinnitus causes and remedies through their Take on Tinnitus modules. Although some of the references are UK specific, the core information is applicable to anyone with tinnitus. Tinnitus Australia will be working to develop a similar resource for Australia, but in the meantime we encourage you to take a look.
TINNIBOT & T-MINUS
There are a number of apps available to support people with tinnitus, but not all apps are equal! These apps take different approaches to managing tinnitus and are supported by quality research.
iCBT is a comprehensive free online self-help CBT program for Tinnitus, the result of collaborative work between UK audiologists, hearing scientists and clinical psychologists based on clinical practice and research.
INFORMATION AND SUPPORT
You can find out more by contacting the Soundfair Hearing Advice Line on
If you are feeling distressed or overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
TINNITUS AUSTRALIA WILL BE SETTING UP TINNITUS SUPPORT GROUPS IN 2021
If you’re interested in joining or helping to organise a support group you can register your interest on this page.