26 million Americans suffer from the phantom buzzing, whistling, whining, or screeching noise of tinnitus. In almost all cases, there is no way for someone outside of the sufferer to hear these sounds, but there is another form of tinnitus, and this one can be heard by doctors.
Objective tinnitus is similar to tinnitus in that the sound varies in loudness, but it is more likely to be constant than intermittent and it's cause can be identified. According to MedLink, "Objective tinnitus is a perceived sensation of sound that occurs in the absence of external acoustic stimulation but that can be also be heard by the examiner (eg, by placing a stethoscope over the patient's external auditory canal). Objective tinnitus is much less common than subjective tinnitus, but it often has an identifiable cause and may be curable, whereas subjective tinnitus is often idiopathic and is seldom curable."
The reason objective tinnitus can be heard by others is that its origin is a physical disturbance within the jugular veins that causes perceptible noise. The video below demonstrates how objective tinnitus can be heard.
Unlike objective tinnitus, subjective tinnitus can be intermittent or constant. The degree of loudness and even the type of sound is particular to each person. Some tinnitus sufferers describe the noise as being as piercing and sharp as the signal used in the emergency broadcast system and can be caused by a number of factors, including hearing loss:
• Ear infections (chronic)
• Undiagnosed hearing loss
• Noise Induced Hearing Loss
• Ototoxicity—drugs can cause hearing issues and tinnitus
• Damage to eardrum
• Inner ear damage (often caused by in-ear headphones.)
• Meniere’s Disease (the presence of fluid in the inner ear.)
• Acoustic Neuroma (a tumor on the auditory nerve.)
There is currently no cure for tinnitus, but there is hope to alleviate this symptom. Some newer treatments available to help tinnitus sufferers include one offered through Main Line Audiology. This Neuromonics Tinnitus Therapy, is "…a combination of testing, counseling and specialized masking to help patients effectively manage and gradually reduce the response to tinnitus." Other therapies include sound therapy, acoustic stimulation, and hearing aids.
If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!