Specialist in audiology, Sylvie Hébert explains what are the tinnitus, these buzzing, silements and whistles that make the life of many Quebecers in his new book, Tinnitus. It demystifies these disorders are auditory and wish that more prevention work is to be done with young people to avoid irreversible damage when they are exposed to excessive noise.
Sylvie Hébert, professor of audiology in the School of speech pathology and audiology from the University of Montreal, recalls that between 10% and 15% of the population is struggling with tinnitus. “With the new lifestyles of young people who listen to very loud music with the portable devices, we can expect that it increases. This is not a rare phenomenon, ” she says, in an interview.
Have tinnitus is to hear noises, sounds, buzzing, ringing in the ears or head without there being any sound to the outside. “There is no sound source that explains the buzzing that you hear. It moves with us, and it is perceived by us only. The others don’t notice. “
Some people are more at risk, given their exposure to noise, such as construction workers, the military, hunters and musicians. “The factor that will predict the presence of tinnitus is hearing loss. With age, the probability increases of developing tinnitus. “
“Old ears “
Until recently, the elderly were the main concerned, but the young are in the process of creating hearing problems that did not exist before. “They were like old ears. “
It is expected that in a few years, these young people will have problems ” major and irreversible, said the specialist. It develops with time and this is not always immediately visible, except when someone is exposed to very loud music in a nightclub or a bar, for example. When he goes out, he is going to have buzzing and hearing loss transient, temporary, which will disappear a few hours later. But these are signs that there is damage being done. “
“Before, we thought that they were reversible, and that the hearing was returning, but over the past few years, researchers have demonstrated that it is not quite. It creates the damage that are subtle, and that will develop in time. Hearing aids will help to restore a little hearing, but it never comes back as clear as a normal hearing. Once the cells are damaged in the inner ear, it never comes back and they have not found yet a way to regenerate. “
Sylvie Hébert added that tinnitus is a source of psychological distress for 1 to 2 % of the population and these people are in need of therapeutic support by audiologists. They are sometimes referred to psychologists.
“There was a mourning silence to do so. For people who have chronic tinnitus, this is the drama : the person says, “my god, I will hear never more the silence”. It is a chronic condition. ”
Sylvie Hébert notes that the brain will eventually forget about the tinnitus, but that the situation remains. It is expected that a resurgence of cases, with the crisis of the COVID-19. “We know that stress and noise are two factors which independently influence the occurrence of tinnitus. The more a person is exposed to the intense stress, for example at work, the greater the risk of having tinnitus. Same thing for the noise. ”
- Sylvie Hébert is a professor of audiology in the School of speech-language pathology and audiology of the Université de Montréal.
- She has published pioneering studies on the evaluation psychoacoustics and comorbidities of tinnitus, especially stress and psychological distress in connection with tinnitus.
Sylvie Hébert, Ph. D.
Sylvie Hébert, Ph. D.