Tinnitus - HEARsmart


Watch our video: Bee HEARsmart to find out more about tinnitus, how you can reduce your risk and manage your symptoms (click the CC button in the lower bar for captions). And if you want to know a little about the background to the animation, read our 2017 article in The Hearing Journal: Advancing Tinnitus Awareness through Animation.


We have put together a quick guide to tinnitus to expand on the animation above and provide a bit more information on the subject. But first – why do we care so much about tinnitus? Well, our research and experience have shown us that tinnitus:

  • is becoming more common in younger people exposed to loud sound
  • can have a significant impact on lifestyle and wellbeing for those who experience it
  • itself can be an early indicator of hearing damage.

Given we exist to look out for the hearing health of young Australians, this is us! We want people to know how easy it is to reduce the risk of developing tinnitus and hearing loss. We also want to support anyone experiencing tinnitus to successfully manage it.

Quick guide to Tinnitus:

What is it? As Blake explains to Alex in the video, tinnitus is: “when you hear a sound – but that sound isn’t actually there”. The actual process or mechanism of tinnitus is not fully understood, but it is real, not imagined, and is often referred to as a symptom of the hearing system.

What does it sound like? Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ears, but is also commonly experienced as buzzing, roaring, clicking and hissing. It can vary from a low roar to a high squeal in one or both ears.

How long does it last? For many people tinnitus is transient, it often disappears after a period of time. For others, around 10%* of the population, it is permanent and may be continuous or intermittent for these people.

What causes it? Exposure to loud sound is one of the main risk factors for developing tinnitus – though getting older and ear wax can also contribute! It can also be triggered or made worse by emotional events such as depression or anxiety, accident, and injury (not necessarily of the ear).

Who gets it? Anyone can experience tinnitus, but people exposed to lots of loud sound are at higher risk, hence musicians are 4x more likely to experience it than the rest of the population.

….so, do you have tinnitus?

HEARsmart fav iconNO – great, let’s keep it that way! You don’t have to stop playing or gigging or listening but think about how loud, how long and how often you are exposed to sound and take a look at our tips on how to Beeee HEARsmart so you can see how easy it is look after your ears. If you have any concerns, we recommend seeing an audiologist. They can keep an eye on your hearing levels and talk to you about strategies to keep your hearing healthy.

HEARsmart fav iconYES, but it doesn’t bother me – this is pretty common, lots of people experience tinnitus as an occasional nuisance but it doesn’t worry them too much.

HEARsmart fav iconYES, and it does worry me – there are ways to manage tinnitus and minimise its impact on your day-to-day life. We recommend seeing an experienced audiologist to work out a personal management plan. This might include sound enrichment, relaxation or meditation, or a variety of other approaches that can be tailored to your particular situation. We also recommend taking a look at our tips on how to Bee HEARsmart (we love that pun!) to help you protect your ears from here on.

Want to know more?

There are various organisations that offer information and assistance to help manage your tinnitus, here are few:

* the incidence of tinnitus in general population and musicians has been the subject of much discussion, we have used a figure of 10% for the general population (as reported by Davis in 1995) and roughly four times that for musicians (reported variously by Kahari et al (2003), Maia & Russo (2008), Putter-Katz et al (2015), Patel et al (2008) and Schink et al (2014)).

To create this animation, HEARsmart worked with the extremely smart and very talented audiologists, Alison King and Emma Scanlan, from Australian Hearing and Siobhan McGinnity from the Univerisity of Melbourne Audiology and Speech Pathology Clinic, as well as Musicians 4 Hearing. What a pleasure!