More To The Story With Staley: What is Tinnitus?

Dave finds out how much trouble "ringing in the ears" can be

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Millions of Americans have it. Between 15 to 20 percent of us. Tinnitus. Most of us call it —ti-NIGHT-us—but the official pronunciation is —TIN-it-us——.

It’s a ringing in the ear. Or a hissing. A buzzing. A roaring. Some sort of sound in the ear.

It’s a serious kind of situation. Ranging from annoying to debilitating.

Cynthia Carter is a Hearing Instrument Specialist, who works for HearUSA, located here in Chattanooga.

She says tinnitus is best defined as your brain searching for something that isn’t there. Similar to someone who loses a limb. But still feels an itching or tingling IN that limb…….which isn’t there.

“Same thing with our brain. It’s trying to find those frequencies that we’ve lost. The brain is simply trying to find those frequencies. They are phantom sounds. But they’re very real. Your brain is just searching.”

Beginning next Monday, it’s Tinnitus Awareness Week. Always held the first week of February. Educating the public about how serious the condition is.

Carter says there is no medication for tinnitus. Nothing that’s FDA approved.

She says the best advice for all of us is to do….what we all know we should do. Though we seldom do it……

“Use ear protection. Especially when we’re in a loud or noisy situation. Let’s face it: a lot of us don’t. We think we’re invincible. Mowing the lawn, music, concerts……things we should be using protection for, but we don’t.”

For those who do suffer from tinnitus, Carter says the best way to go is…..stay away from caffeine. And stress. And silence. Having noise of some sorts in the background will always help.

Dave Staley, News 12.

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