Tinnitus and Musicians Hearing – What You Should Know

Tinnitus, typically characterized as chronic ringing ears, is another hearing-related problem that can afflict the general public and especially musicians. Although not a condition itself, tinnitus is an indication of an underlying issue of hearing loss, an injury to the ear, or a sign of a circulatory system disorder.

You should consult a doctor if there was a rapid onset of tinnitus with hearing loss for seemingly unknown reasons and especially if accompanied by dizziness, vertigo, or balance issues. Otherwise, if your tinnitus is relatively mild, but bothersome, a consultation for treatment options and remedies is advised.

How Tinnitus Starts

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is when the tiny hairs of the inner ear, which transmit electrical signals to the brain through the auditory nerve, are damaged, bent and broken by sound wave pressure and thus, these impaired signals cause the brain to interpret them as “hidden” noise.

hearing loss by toronto musiciansThis cause is commonly attributed to long-term sustained exposure to loud music or noise, or short-term exposure to a sudden, extreme burst of noise, pressure or frequency. This occurrence of tinnitus is referred to as subjective tinnitus, as the subject is the only person who can detect its internal presence.

Objective tinnitus can be audibly detected externally and may be identified by a physician through a physical examination to help determine its cause.

The onset of tinnitus could be caused by other factors including:

• Ear wax blockage
• Otosclerosis, an abnormal bone growth condition in the middle ear.
• Meniere’s Disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes dizziness, vertigo and hearing loss.
• Temporomandibular (jaw) joint issues
• Head or Neck Injuries
• Acoustic Neuroma, a slow-growing tumor on the vestibular (main) nerve that leads to the brain that may also affect balance.
• Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, tubes that run from the throat to the middle ear that regulate air pressure, ventilate the ear and allow fluid drainage.
• Inner Ear Muscle Spasms
• Medications
• Age

How Tinnitus Affects Hearing – Tinnitus Symptoms

Tinnitus is an underlying noise where no noise is present. The presence of tinnitus manifests itself in symptoms that may be ever-present or come-and-go and can appear as anything from a low-roar to a high-pitched squeal. These “phantom noises” have been described alternatively as buzzing, clicking, roaring, hissing, humming and ringing, and can be so intrusive as to affect concentration and interfere with perceiving external sounds.

The type of “phantom noise” you experience could help explain the type of tinnitus you suffer from.

• Clicking could indicate muscle contractions within the ear.
• Rushing or humming that presents during exercise or sudden up and down movements could indicate a vascular condition.
• Amplification of your heartbeat could indicate high-blood pressure, blood vessel issues, ear-canal blockage, tumor, or potentially an aneurysm.
• Low-pitch ringing, particularly in one ear, could be a sign of Meniere’s Disease.
• High-pitch ringing can be caused by sudden or long-term exposure to loud noise, age-related loss, and medication. Continuous ringing in one ear could be a sign of acoustic neuroma.

How Tinnitus affects daily life

The intensity of your tinnitus and hearing impairment can also impact the degree that if affects your everyday life. Associated complications can include anxiety, trouble sleeping, concentration problems, memory issues, stress, fatigue and depression.

How Tinnitus is Diagnosed

In order to diagnose the specific nature of your tinnitus, the doctor may conduct a number of tests, including an audiological exam, which places you in a sound-proof room and exposes each ear to a series of sounds and the results are measured against a baseline of normalcy for someone in your age group. Your doctor may perform a movement test to determine if your tinnitus is connected to a specific body motion, like rolling your eyes, clenching your jaw, and moving your arms, legs and neck to monitor changes in your tinnitus and isolate a specific body part. As well, imaging tests such as CT and MRI may be ordered.

How Tinnitus is Treated

The exact cause of subjective tinnitus is virtually never found and simply becomes a chronic condition, however there are treatments and prevention measures that can improve your quality of life. These tinnitus remedies include:

• White-noise machines, fans, air-conditioners etc. that can fill the environment with alternative noise and ease the relentlessness of tinnitus.
• Masking devices are worn within the ear, like a hearing-aid, to broadcast low-level white noise.
• Anti-Depressants have helped reduced the severity of tinnitus and the associated anxiety.
• Reducing stress, relaxation therapy & exercise can ease the symptoms of tinnitus.
• Reducing alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases blood flow to the inner-ear and exacerbates tinnitus.

To read an academic paper on Tinnitus from The Journal of Clinical Neurology, Click Here

Find Toronto GTA Hearing Clinics, Audiologists, Hearing Doctors & Specialists in Tinnitus Treatment:

Updated February 2020

  • Canadian Hearing Services: 271 Spadina Road – Toronto, ON | 1-866-518-0000 https://www.chs.ca/

Well Known Musicians who also have Tinnitus:

  • Bono
  • Bob Dylan
  • Sting
  • Eric Clapton
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Huey Lewis
  • Steve Martin
  • Al Di Meola
  • Liza Minnelli
  • James Hetfield
  • Lars Ulrich
  • Kirk Hammett
  • Moby
  • Phil Collins
  • KT Tunstall
  • Trent Reznor

Read more about Hearing Loss & Musicians, check out our post, Click Here