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If you have experienced a buzzing, ringing or humming in your ears for an extended period of time, you may be suffering from tinnitus. Here we explain what it is and how to get help.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition and a form of chronic pain, where a person experiences sound in the ears without any external source of sound. The sound can vary in form and intensity, and is described as a ringing, hissing, humming, beeping or other sound-like sensations. Tinnitus can be temporary or chronic and can affect one or both ears. It can be frustrating and distracting, especially when it goes on for a long time, so it is important to get help and support.

Stress and tinnitus

Stress can affect tinnitus in different ways and many sufferers say their symptoms get worse when they feel stressed. If a person is stressed and anxious, they may be more sensitive to sound, which then triggers symptoms. Sufferers may find it difficult to relax and often develop sleep problems.

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Pulsating sounds in the ear

If you have tinnitus, you may hear a rhythmic or pulsating sensation or sound in your ear. It can be a constant tone, a buzzing, a roaring or, in some cases, a pulsating sound. If tinnitus is perceived as pulsating, it may be associated with the rhythm of the heart and is also known as pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by blood vessels near the ear, infections in the ear, earwax, pressure in the head, and muscle activity in the eyes, among other things. If you have these symptoms, seek help from an ophthalmologist or hearing specialist to investigate the symptoms.

Tinnitus and sleep problems

Tinnitus can affect sleep in different ways and create sleep problems that can be troublesome. People with tinnitus often report that the sounds are more noticeable when it is quiet around them. This can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. They may be easily awakened and have problems with daytime fatigue. Symptoms of sleep problems can be helped with therapy.

You are not alone in living with tinnitus

Studies have shown that up to around 10-15% of people report experiencing tinnitus in some form. If you are experiencing symptoms, there is help available.

What causes tinnitus?

The most common cause of tinnitus is noise damage, developed from cells in the inner ear being exposed to loud sounds. Sometimes you can hear sounds in your ear after a loud concert, but these sounds usually disappear after a short time. Tinnitus can develop from exposure to loud noise over a long period of time, but can occur from experiencing extreme noise on a single occasion. Musicians often develop tinnitus as they are exposed to a lot of noise regularly in their work.

The causes of tinnitus can also be due to old age, ear disease, trauma with physical injuries to the head, certain medications and high blood pressure. Stress and anxiety can make tinnitus more noticeable. If you experience symptoms, it is important to seek help.


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Different therapies and options available

Tinnitus can be a frustrating and distracting experience, especially when it continues for a long time. If you experience tinnitus, it is important to seek treatment from a hearing specialist or an ear specialist for a thorough assessment. There are various treatment options for managing tinnitus, including sound therapy, masking techniques, and in some cases, medication or surgery depending on the underlying cause. For the psychological symptoms associated with tinnitus, such as stress, anxiety and sleep problems, psychological treatment is available.

Cognitive behavioural therapy for tinnitus

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a treatment method that focuses on thoughts, feelings and behaviours, as well as physical symptoms related to different situations. It can help treat sleep problems, concentration problems, stress and sensitivity to sound. Feelings such as irritation and fatigue are common with tinnitus and you can get support to work on recovery and quality of life. In therapy, you will learn different ways of dealing with tinnitus to alleviate your symptoms and make it less disruptive to your daily life.

Therapy can help with tinnitus

Talking to a licensed psychologist gives you tools to understand and manage your symptoms. It can also significantly improve your quality of life and make it easier to deal with the stresses and pressures of everyday life.

The benefits of seeking help

Instead of feeling a bit lost about how to manage your symptoms, you can learn concrete methods and steps to improve your situation. Seeking help is always confidential and our psychologists are trained to deal with your particular problem in a professional manner.

Steps to move forward

By seeking help, you are not showing signs of weakness, but of strength. As it is an active choice to get the support you need, you can improve your life situation. Professional help is available and is an important step in improving your quality of life. Even if you are not ready to take the step today, you can always book an initial session with our therapists and psychologists. Before starting a treatment, an introductory conversation can be a good way to find out what it’s like to speak with a licensed psychologist. We are here, ready to make the difficult easier.


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12 common questions about tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition where a person experiences sound in the ears without an external source of sound.

What are the most common symptoms of tinnitus?

The sound can vary in character and intensity and can be described as a ringing, buzzing, humming, beeping or other sound-like sensations. Tinnitus can be temporary or chronic and can affect one or both ears.

How does stress affect tinnitus?

Many people with tinnitus say that their experience of tinnitus can get worse when they feel stressed, but the tinnitus symptoms themselves can also cause stress for the person experiencing it.

I hear pulsating sounds in my ear, is it tinnitus?

If you have tinnitus, you may hear a rhythmic or pulsating sensation or sound in your ear. It can be a constant tone, a buzzing, a roaring, or in some cases a pulsating sound. If the tinnitus is perceived as pulsating, it may be associated with the heart rhythms and is known as pulsatile tinnitus. Contact your GP for an assessment.

How common is tinnitus?

Studies have shown that up to about 10-15% of people report having experienced tinnitus in some form.

What causes tinnitus?

The causes of tinnitus can be noise, old age, ear diseases, trauma with physical injuries to the head, certain medications and high blood pressure. Stress and anxiety can also make tinnitus more noticeable.

What treatments are available for tinnitus?

If you hear sounds that do not go away, you should first seek help from a hearing specialist or an ear specialist for a thorough assessment. Treatment options may then include sound therapy, masking techniques, and in some cases, medication or surgery. For psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety and sleep problems, psychological treatment can be used to alleviate symptoms.

What are the long-term effects of untreated tinnitus?

Untreated anxiety can lead to other problems such as stress, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. You may feel frustrated and psychological treatment is available to help you manage your emotions.

What are the risks of developing tinnitus?

Loud noises over a long period of time can cause tinnitus, but so can extremely loud noises at one time. Musicians and other professionals who work a lot with sound may be at risk.

What is cognitive behavioural therapy?

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment method that works with thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms.

How much does therapy at Lavendla cost?

The cost of therapy varies depending on the experience and specialisation of the therapist, and the length of each session. The average price ranges between €30 – 100 per session. Our therapists’ prices are listed on their profile pages.

Where can I go if I need help?

If you have symptoms, contact your GP for an assessment. Psychological treatment is available through Lavendla which may alleviate your symptoms. If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call 111, or visit 111.nhs.uk, immediately. It is important to receive urgent assistance in such situations.

Treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy

CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that works with thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms linked to behaviour in different situations. The method is based on learning theory and explanatory models for different conditions where the treatment is adapted to the individual’s needs. It works to meet and challenge what prevents the client from experiencing a higher quality of life by also working with home tasks between sessions. Here are the most common steps in CBT treatment:

  1. Exploring the problem
    The initial stage of treatment involves reviewing your history and assessing your symptoms. You may be asked to complete assessment forms and learn more about the problem through different models.
  2. Goals, values and problem situations
    This involves setting short- and long-term goals, but you can also work on values and explore what is important in your life. It also analyses specific situations that become difficult.
  3. Active work with thoughts, feelings and behaviours
    Here you work actively with change. You can work on facing your feelings in different situations and change the way you relate to your thoughts. You can start acting in different ways that have different results in your life. This involves various exercises and techniques that are continuously evaluated.
  4. Closure and follow-up
    At the end of the treatment, the results are followed up and a plan is made together to maintain the outcome of the treatment over time. You also book a follow-up visit some time after treatment to see how the results have been maintained.
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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.