Tinnitus is the feeling of ringing in the ears. Read this complete guide on Tinnitus, what are its causes and how to cure it.
Tinnitus is the feeling of ringing in the ear or an added sound heard by the patient. Patients affected by tinnitus often describe it as a continuous or an intermittent buzzing, whistling, chirping, or hissing sound. Some patients may hear other sounds in the ears like a whooshing, humming, etc. Tinnitus may affect one or both ears.
The sounds in the ears can be soft to loud and may have a continuously the same or changing pitch and volume. The disturbance is felt more when the patient is trying to sleep or work in a quiet environment where background noise is low. On the contrary, some patients become overly sensitive to sound (called hyperacusis).
Although the tinnitus does not directly lead to hearing loss, it can surely hinder the concentrating and listening abilities of the patients. If the condition is left unattended for a prolonged period, it can also lead to psychological problems.
Our inner ear helps in the maintenance of balance the body, acts as receptors of sounds and transmits signals to the brain. Loud noises can damage the sound-sensitive cells in the inner ear temporarily or sometimes permanently if it is very loud.
Disturbance in the conduction of sound from the inner ear or processing of the sound signal by the central nervous system may lead to tinnitus. (more info).
There are many causes of tinnitus. It may be a standalone medical condition sometimes that is induced or may also be an indicator of an underlying medical condition. When the medical condition gets addressed, the tinnitus too will be resolved.
Tinnitus may be associated with disorders causing vertigo or dizziness. (get more info)
People who are prone to tinnitus are those who work for a long time in a noisy environment such as carpenters, repair workers using noisy machines, rock musicians, pilots or any others who are exposed to sudden loud sound or operate in noisy environments. People who listen to loud music for long duration may develop tinnitus over a period.
In subjective tinnitus, only the patient suffering from tinnitus hears the ringing or similar sound in the ear.
On the contrary, in objective tinnitus, a doctor too can hear the tinnitus in the patient’s ear with the help of a stethoscope.
At NeuroEquilibrium™, we have designed advanced testing and treatment equipment to diagnose and treat tinnitus.
Otologists, neurotologists, otolaryngologists, and audiologists are the experts in this field who diagnose tinnitus and its severity through various physical and behavioural tests to check your hearing ability.
The patient is asked to rate the loudness of the internal noise in the ear on the scale of 0 – 10. The patients perceive their ringing-in-the-ear sound louder than it is, due to subjective tinnitus. Checking the loudness on the decibel scale of 0-10 helps the doctors to understand the severity of the tinnitus.
To assess the hearing of the patient. If there is a hearing loss – the type of hearing loss and its severity is gauged.
Sounds with different pitches are played to the patients and are asked to select the close one in the set that resembles the sound they experience in the ear. The recognition of a pitch that is closely similar to the one that the patient hears in his ear helps the doctors understand the frequency level of tinnitus in the patient.
The patient is asked to match the intensity of sound they hear in their ear. The test aids the doctors in understanding the range of the sound of tinnitus in a patient.
These should be done to determine middle ear pressure, stapedial reflexes and ET function.
It is important to try to ascertain the underlying cause of tinnitus.
Wax is produced in the ear to protect and lubricate it. Cleaning with ear-buds can push the wax further inside causing blockage of the ear canal. Instead, the patient should be encouraged to go to their nearest ENT doctors for ear wax removal.
The doctors will prescribe antibiotics to reduce infection in the ear.
Any undue pressure or injury may harm the joint and cause tinnitus. An orthodontist, dentist or ENT doctor can treat this condition successfully.
Patients are advised to stay in a sound-rich environment.
Anti-anxiety or antidepressant drugs are often prescribed by doctors to treat tinnitus.
A well-fitted hearing aid can reduce the distracting sounds in the ears and helps in effective hearing.
Also called as noise suppression devices these devices are similar to hearing aids. This device plays an added sound to distract the patient from focussing on ringing sound caused by tinnitus. The doctor sets the frequency of the instrument after loudness and pitch matching tests so that the pitch in the device matches that of a perceived sound of the tinnitus experienced by the patient.
It is a combination of a hearing aid and masking device.
It is a habituation therapy that helps the patients to perceive the annoying inner noise in the ear to be normal at the subconscious level so that the conscious mind does not get disturbed by the sounds in the inner ear. There are two stages in TRT –
This treatment is very effective in treating tinnitus and takes around a year or two to show results.
It is a relaxation method that helps patients to control and manage their stress reactions to inner ear noise. Many tinnitus patients find it helpful in addressing their problem.
An intensive counselling of the patients along with the use of a masking device and medications has proved to be very beneficial in treating tinnitus in the patients.
The device emits electrical signals to the brain to treat severe to profound deafness. If the tinnitus patient has severe hearing loss, this treatment can very efficiently provide lasting relief to the patient. However, if the patient has only tinnitus and not hearing loss, this implant is not recommended.
The patient can be advised to play background music of falling rain, the sound of the sea, river or similar kind of sounds to keep themselves distracted from the noises in the ear.
What else can you do to handle tinnitus better?
Smoking cigarettes is injurious to health! It’s worse if you have tinnitus. Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels to the sensitive auditory nerves cells that help you hear and also stimulates your body. This action heightens sounds that you hear in your ears.
If your tinnitus is too bothersome, playing soft music at the backdrop will help you immensely. It distracts you from focussing on tinnitus and help you concentrate on your daily activities.
Many tinnitus patients observe that their tinnitus or ringing in the ear condition worsens when they take certain foods, beverages, or medications. It is best to avoid such triggers to keep the sounds in your ear less bothersome.
If you are in a noisy place (concerts/pubs) or doing work that generates noise (using power drilling tools/factories/vacuum cleaners that make a loud noise); wear earplugs or cover your ears.
You need not suffer in silence now. You need not accept vertigo as ‘something you have to live with’. There is a way to cure vertigo, dizziness and any other balancing issues you are facing. Live a stable and vibrant life.
A Vertigo Free Life!