Tinnitus - causes and treatment of ringing in the ear
A humming, swooshing or whistling sound in the ear can be maddening, particularly if the cause and origin of the noise isn’t known. These noises heard in the ear are known as Tinnitus. Although there is no cure for tinnitus there are various effective forms of treatment and counselling available.
If a noise is heard in the ear or head and does not originate from an outside source ,then typically tinnitus comes to mind. The word Tinnitus originates from the Latin “tinnire” and in English means “ringing.” Normally only the person impacted hears the ear noises. If a physician can hear the ear noise, like blood flow through the arteries, then it is this is known as objective tinnitus. This type of tinnitus is extremely rare.
The most frequent form is known as subjective tinnitus. This type of tinnitus can occur in one or both ears. Approximately 40% of the population experience some form of uncomfortable ear noise at least once in their life. 10 to 20% have already had chronic tinnitus that lasts more than 3 months. The symptoms occur most often between 40 to 50 years old.
How would I recognize tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a symptom that can be triggered by many different causes. Not all cases of tinnitus are the same; it can vary with regard to intensity, frequency, duration and cause. Tinnitus can be divided into four categories: acute, chronic, subjective and objective.
For those impacted, it is important to not underestimate tinnitus, but rather to observe and understand it. When does it occur? When are the noises alleviated? Do certain movements of the head make the tinnitus more tolerable? Does the tinnitus occur on one or both sides? All of this information helps the physician determine the type and possible cause.
Causes and risk factors
How tinnitus occurs in the ear is not clear. Scientists suspect causes in the inner ear, but also other causes can trigger tinnitus; such as an acute hearing loss, hearing impairment, injuries to the cervical vertebrae or an acoustic shock
But stress, anxiety, excessive demands and physical illnesses can also lead to tinnitus along with foreign bodies in the ear and too much ear wax.
Other risk factors and illnesses can lead to tinnitus:
- Middle ear infections
- Inner ear infections
- Eardrum defect
- Perilymphatic fistulas –.
In general, tinnitus is not an illness itself, but rather a symptom. This symptom can have numerous accompanying symptoms, which can negatively impact the individual quality of life of the person impacted. Some of these accompanying symptoms are:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased sensitivity to (loud) noises
- Ear pain
Tinnitus is very common. An estimated 10-15% of a population has tinnitus and most cases go untreated.
Tinnitus differs for each patient. In one person, it could be humming in the ear and for another person, it could be a ringing sound. The volume varies for each person, which is why medical practitioners divide tinnitus into four degrees of severity.
Degree 1: Tinnitus can be compensated for and does not disturb the impacted person.
Degree 2: Tinnitus is largely compensated for, but still occurs when quiet and becomes disruptive when under stress of other taxing situations.
Degree 3: The tinnitus symptoms considerably impact private and professional life. It causes irritability as well as emotional and physical problems. The patients suffer from disruptions to sleep and concentration, muscle tension, headaches as well as feelings of helplessness.
Degree 4: The ongoing impacts of tinnitus are so great that they have an extreme negative impact on the quality of life. Patients can no longer maintain their jobs, withdraw from their social lives and suffer from immense psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Is tinnitus the same as acute hearing loss?
Acute hearing loss and tinnitus have numerous parallel symptoms and clinical picture, but are also not the same. Acute hearing loss is an illness, whereas tinnitus alone is a symptom. Acute hearing loss can be the cause of tinnitus. For some people, tinnitus is a life-long issue and for others it lasts only a short time. The characteristics also vary.
Diagnosis - to diagnose tinnitus
If tinnitus lasts for more than three days, a visit to an ENT physician is warranted. After a comprehensive discussion, the complaints will be analyzed to determine possible causes. In addition, a hearing test will be conducted to determine if the patient has a hearing loss. The nose should be examined to determine if the area around the ear is connected in anyway to the tinnitus.
Other tests that maybe done are:
- Examination of the neck, nose and ears
- Hearing test
- Analysis of the ear noise
- Testing the transfer of sound from the inner ear (otoacoustic emissions)
- Testing balance
- Objective hearing test (brain stem audiometry)
- Blood test
- MRI of the skull (magnetic resonance imagery)
- CT of the skull (computer tomography)
- Examination of the cervical spine and the jaw
The treatment that is ultimately suggested depends on the type of tinnitus, how intensive the symptoms are and the individual psychological strain put on the individual. Since tinnitus itself is not an illness, if possible, the actual cause will be treated.
Relaxation exercises and regular breaks in order to relax often help. Tinnitus can be worsened by stress.
Early examination when tinnitus occurs is always preferred because the possible causes can be determined faster and the accompanying issues can be avoided. It’s also important to give the ears a break from time to time, particularly with chronic issues. Learn to understand tinnitus and how to manage it.
It is generally important to avoid noise. This also helps prevent tinnitus from even occurring. If you work in an extremely loud environment, use noise protection in order to protect your hearing.
85% of people who experience tinnitus will also have hearing loss. Hearing aids help to markedly improve the quality of life in this case. The hearing aid helps the hearing loss and helps people to hear ambient .