Have you ever experienced a strange whooshing, ringing or buzzing noise that only you can hear? If so, it might be a sign that you are suffering from tinnitus. Tinnitus is characterized as a hearing condition that can have a significant impact on your life in a detrimental way.

A lot of people experience tinnitus in this country: more than 50 million people suffer from it according to research. And if you are concerned about your hearing – or perhaps the hearing of a family member or friend – you might have some questions to ask.

With this in mind, here are three frequently asked questions about tinnitus.

How do I get tinnitus?

You can develop tinnitus in a number of different ways. A lot of people develop the condition after exposing themselves to loud noises on a regular basis – rock musicians are statistically more likely to get it, for example.

Some people can get tinnitus temporarily, too, and it’s a common symptom of having too much earwax in your ear canals.

The most important thing to remember is that tinnitus is not a disease or condition that is caused by itself – it’s always a symptom caused by an underlying health condition. If you can tackle that underlying cause, you may find that your tinnitus issue disappears.

Should I get a hearing test with an audiologist?

In most cases, not everyone needs to see a hearing specialist or audiologist. As we mentioned above, many people can get tinnitus temporarily – you might have ringing ears after spending too long listening to music, for example, and if the ringing or buzzing sound dissipates, it might not come back.

However, if you do notice the ringing or humming becoming a regular event, always see an audiologist. It could be a sign that your hearing is starting to go, and you may be prompted to start using a hearing aid which will give you a lot of relief. As your hearing begins to worsen, your ears work harder to make out particular tones, pitches and frequencies, which in turn can lead to tinnitus.

Once you have your hearing aid, you will find that the high pitched whooshing and ringing starts to be more manageable than it was before.

Is there a cure?

There is no ‘cure’ for tinnitus, other than attempting to tackle the underlying causes of the condition. But it can be treated and managed to ensure that it doesn’t have too much of an impact on your life.

There are plenty of different ways of making the ringing less noticeable, from hearing aids through to masking devices that produce sounds that counteract the pitches and tones you hear when you are having a bout of tinnitus.

You can even get therapy for your tinnitus problem. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can help. In addition, tinnitus retraining therapy has proved successful with many different sufferers of the hearing condition.

If you are experiencing regular bouts of tinnitus, for example, when you go to bed at night, contact an audiologist or hearing specialist. They will give you the tools and strategies you need to ensure that you don’t suffer any debilitation to your life.