Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself — it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn’t a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.
A number of health conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus. In many cases, an exact cause is never found.
A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear hair cell damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.
Other causes of tinnitus include other ear problems, chronic health conditions, and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain. Tinnitus can present severe challenges for many couples. Many people experience a reduction in sexual drive. Openness and proper counseling may provide solutions to most of the problems. Initially, tinnitus may severely affect your personal life and relationships. The sound of tinnitus affects everything, causing fear and further vulnerability. At first, you concentrate on surviving at work. This drains you of energy and affects your attention to your spouse or partner, your regular leisure pursuits, etc., and in the end you call in sick, explained Jette Fischer, a psychologist..
Tough on relationships
According to a study carried out by the Royal National Institute of the Deaf among 890 Britons with tinnitus, 41 percent believed that tinnitus had an adverse impact on their relationships. Among the explanations:
– 27 percent found that their problems stemmed from decreased sex drive due to their tinnitus
– 39 percent complained about a lack of understanding in their partners for their conditions
– 78 percent found that their relationships were affected by tinnitus related stress.
Talk about it
However scary, suffering from tinnitus does not have to stop you from living a good life and enjoying happy relations with your spouse or partner. Just talking about it makes it easier for both parties to focus on the problems. Putting your feelings in words is the first step towards releasing some of the tension, and little by little you will become better at understanding the feelings and thoughts that have caused problems in your relationship, until the two of you together can deal with the problems. But both of you must participate for this to work. If one is reluctant, nothing can be done. Besides openness about your tinnitus, treatment strategies, such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) may also be of great help in coping with the endless ringing and buzzing in the ears.