Tinnitus roughly affects about 20 % of the masses and the cases have been increasing. Exposure to loud noise and an unhealthy lifestyle increase the chances of Tinnitus. People should be aware of the symptoms, causes and treatments for tinnitus. A guide to Tinnitus covering the symptoms, causes and the available treatments will be very helpful to all.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a noise in the head, either in one ear or in both the ears. This noise is not an external or ambient noise.
What Type of Noise do we Hear in Tinnitus?
The sound may differ from person to person. Some of the common sounds people suffering from tinnitus hear are-
- Ringing sound
- Buzzing sound
- Whistling sound
- Hissing sound
- Clicking sound (Rare cases)
Symptoms of Tinnitus
Tinnitus affects people in different ways. The common thing in all the cases of Tinnitus is that the noise is continuous. The volume of the noise may change according to the time and place. For some people, it becomes unbearable in the night which could be due to the silence around. The noise may not be noticeable during the day as work keeps people occupied. Sometimes the external noise masks it or covers it. Tiredness or mental stress may also change the intensity of the noise.
Ringing in the ears is also caused by listening to very loud music. For example, the ears keep ringing after a musical concert or an evening at a discotheque. This ringing is temporary and disappears after proper rest. Sometimes detoxification of the ears is also needed. If the sound refuses to go away, it could be a case of Tinnitus and you should see your ENT Doctor at the earliest.
Is Tinnitus an Illness?
Tinnitus is not an illness by itself but is the result of other issues elsewhere in the ear.
Common causes of Tinnitus
There are many reasons or causes of Tinnitus, below are some of the common causes of Tinnitus.
Exposure to Loud Sounds
People working in factories or a noisy environment without noise protection Ear plugs. And, youngsters listening to loud music for long hours are candidates for Tinnitus.
Age-related Hearing Loss
People suffering from hearing loss because of ageing are more prone to Tinnitus.
Severe ear infection, which results in an earache can cause Tinnitus.
An injury to the head near the Ear or the Spinal cord can result in Tinnitus. In this case, Tinnitus is in the injured ear and not both the ears.
Wax blockage in the Ear
If the earwax hardens and starts touching the eardrum, it does result in Tinnitus. There are chances that Tinnitus might go away after removal of wax. Always keep your ears clean and get ear wax removed at regular intervals.
Middle Ear Bone Stiffness (Otosclerosis)
Stiffening of bones in the Middle Ear which causes hearing loss can also result in Tinnitus.
A tumour that affects the blood vessel or nerve associated with the ear may result in Tinnitus.
High Blood Pressure
Generally results in Pulsing like Tinnitus. The medical term for it is Pulsatile Tinnitus.
Excessive Use of Medicines
Heavy doses of certain Antibiotics, antidepressants or Aspirin also result in Tinnitus. A withdrawal of these medicines can reduce or cure tinnitus.
Major reasons for the occurrence of Tinnitus is an unhealthy lifestyle. It includes excessive consumption of Coffee, Alcohol, Smoking and drug abuse.
The above are some of the causes, but not all, your ENT Doctor will determine the exact cause of your Tinnitus.
Tinnitus Treatments and Precautions
Tinnitus is a complex problem; the cause can be in any of these parts.
- The Outer Ear
- The Middle Ear
- The Inner Ear
- The Brain
As of today, there is no confirmed cure for Tinnitus. It is advisable to consult your ENT Doctor and follow his advice.
How To Reduce the Effects of Tinnitus?
Prevent Ear Infection and Earwax Buildup
In case you have Ear Infection or Earwax blockage, please get it treated. Read about the home remedies to clear earwax.
Use Hearing Protection to Avoid Exposure to Loud Sounds.
Using Ear protectors to safeguard your Hearing if one is staying in high noise areas. People living close to main roads, or working in factories cannot avoid the noise. Read about the advantages of using Ear protectors to help against tinnitus.
The Digital Hearing Aids available these days do have built-in Tinnitus Masking options. Otherwise, Tinnitus Masking Hearing aids are available.
What are Tinnitus Maskers?
Tinnitus maskers are Hearing aids which play soothing sound in your ears. This sound “masks” or covers the sound produced in the person’s ears. The masking sound is in the form of soothing music, natural sounds like a waterfall, waves or white noise.
Tinnitus masking apps are available in App stores. People with smart phones can download these apps. Users of digital hearing aids can connect to their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to the various sounds available.
Meditation to Control Tinnitus
Alternate solutions like Meditation works wonders for tinnitus. It calms the mind and reduces the noise level. Yoga Asanas like Shunya Mudra help in reducing Tinnitus noise.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
TRT uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It trains to ignore the noise and push it into the background.
Control BP & Stress to Reduce Tinnitus
General wellbeing will help in reducing the intensity of Tinnitus. Keep Hypertension, Cardiac Health and Diabetes in control. Regular exercise is also very helpful.
Better Eating Habits to Reduce Tinnitus
Consume less sodium and caffeine, avoid fast foods which are high in sodium content. Change to whole grain diet and avoid too much coffee, switch to Green tea.
Celebrities suffering from Tinnitus
Below are some of the famous Musicians who suffer from Tinnitus.
- Chris Martin
- Eric Clapton
- Neil Young
- Will. I. Am
Tinnitus generally affects people over 40. The cases have been increasing as it is affecting younger people as well. People who listen to loud music with the headphones on are at higher risk of getting tinnitus.
Use Ear Plugs as far as possible and maintain a good diet for good Ear Health.