What is it?

Tinnitus is the phenomenon in which a person hears to sounds when there is no external sound is present. This condition is generally associated with a ringing sound that occurs quite often in the ears of the affected person. However, apart from ringing, other sounds like a hiss, a buzz, a hum, a ticking, a whistle, a clicking or even as dangerous as a roar, are also often associated with Tinnitus. These sounds are quite annoying, and rather very disturbing on the part of the hearer who are constantly being deprived of enjoying a good hearing experience. So it is very important to ACT NOW, and to get a good treatment of hearing loss, if you are suffering from such a problem.

Symptoms of Tinnitus


What are its Causes?

Since tinnitus is not a disease, but just a symptom of some medical conditions, it can There can be many causes of tinnitus, including -

  • Noise-induced hearing loss

  • Inner ear cell damage (mostly due to over-exposure to high decibels of noise)

  • Ear infections

  • Excessive accumulation of earwax

  • Malformations in the ear

  • Otosclerosis - stiffening of bones in the middle ear

  • Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ)

  • Chronic neck muscle strain

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Disease of the heart or blood vessels

  • Meniere’s disease

  • Emotional stress

  • Brain tumor

  • A (generally benign) tumor that creates a strain on the arteries in the neck and head

  • Acoustic neuroma. It is a noncancerous (benign) tumor which develops on the main nerve - that is, the cranial nerve - running from your brain to your inner ear, which is responsible for controlling our balance and hearing. This condition is also known as vestibular schwannoma, which generally causes tinnitus in only one ear, and even hearing loss accompanied by unsteadiness, due to the constant pressure arising out of the presence of the tumour. In such a case, it is high time for you to opt for a good treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus problems.

  • Chronic health conditions

  • Exposure to certain ototoxic medications and drugs

  • Head injury or trauma

  • Other injuries or conditions that affect the auditory nerve or the hearing center in your brain

  • Age related hearing loss or Prescubysis.

However, studies show that the problem of tinnitus is more common in people who suffer from depression.

Tinnitus can occur either in one or both the ears. In a more serious case, it can even occur in the head when there is a lack of Auditory stimulation - the condition which is termed as Auditory Deprivation. Tinnitus can be either intermittent or continuous. Studies show that most of the people who are facing tinnitus problems, are suffering from hearing loss. So an immediate intervention into the treatment of hearing loss as well as tinnitus problems becomes extremely necessary to avoid situations to grow more serious.

 

What are the Risk Factors?

Anyone can experience tinnitus due to various complications, but the following factors may increase the risk of tinnitus problems:

  • Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as the workers working in factory and construction settings, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly exposed to a high risk of acquiring tinnitus problems.

  • Age. As you start ageing, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems, which is often associated with tinnitus.

  • Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus than women.

  • Smoking. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing tinnitus. So it’s high time to throw off that dangerous roll of nicotine.

  • Cardiovascular problems. There are certain conditions that affect your blood flow, such as developing a high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of developing tinnitus problems.

 

What are the Types?

There are four kinds of tinnitus, mainly -

  • Subjective tinnitus: This is the most common form of tinnitus. The symptoms of subjective tinnitus can only be heard by the affected individual and are usually caused by exposure to excessive noise. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. Subjective tinnitus can also be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or the part of your brain (the auditory pathways), which is responsible for interpreting the nerve signals as sounds. This type of tinnitus can appear and disappear suddenly, and may last 3–12 months at a time. However, in some severe cases, it may never stop, and therefore, calls for immediate treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus.

  • Neurological tinnitus: It is usually caused by a neurological disorder, such as Meniere’s disease, that primarily disrupts the smooth functioning of the auditory centre of the brain, which is responsible for sound perception.

  • Somatic tinnitus: Sometimes damage to structures or organs outside the ear or the brain is a troubling source of tinnitus. So is the case of somatic tinnitus. This kind of tinnitus is related to the sensory system, where certain changes in the sensory input might give rise to tinnitus. It is a condition where the sensory system in the body can become worse and might influence tinnitus. Somatic signals are the sensory signals which are generated from the muscle position sensors present in the head, face, tongue, neck, trunk, arms, and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It would be a foolish act to delay a proper treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus in such cases.

  • Objective tinnitus: This is a rare form of tinnitus that may be caused by involuntary muscle contractions or vascular deformities. When the cause is treated, the tinnitus usually stops entirely. Objective tinnitus is the only type of tinnitus which can be heard from the outside, and it is the only type that has the potential for a permanent solution.

 

How to Fight Against It?

The only possible way to fight tinnitus is to prevent it! To make things easier for you, we have listed below some preventive measures of tinnitus -

  • Avoid loud noises - Keep yourself at a safe hand distance from loud noises, such as at concerts, theatres, etc. As already mentioned, noise-induced hearing loss is the major cause of tinnitus.

  • Ginkgo biloba - it is a Chinese herb that has excellent benefits when it comes to the prevention or treatment of hearing loss and of tinnitus problems. Combining it with zinc (about 500 gm) as studies show that this combination is a very effective treatment for most of the tinnitus problems. Ginkgo biloba, as already mentioned, can be a very effective treatment of hearing loss as it can help stabilize hearing loss problems by increasing the capillary blood circulation of both your body as well as your ears.

  • Melatonin  - Melatonin is a hormone that is made in the brain as a response to darkness and it is responsible for maintaining a balanced sleeping and waking pattern. Melatonin supplements are usually recommended to combat insomnia, as tinnitus usually disrupts sleeping person of the affected person.

  • Garlic - As already mentioned before, tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but is rather a symptom of some other complications. You might not always be able to identify the exact cause of tinnitus. But researchers have studies that whatever the cause may be, garlic might prove to be quite effective in curing or at least reducing tinnitus problems. The active ingredient in garlic - allicin - has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. If your tinnitus is a result of some infection, then garlic is powerful enough to kick away any infection, and is a very effective treatment of hearing loss.

  • Ginger - Like garlic, ginger too has many health benefits that improves the general health of a person. Ginger is known for improving blood circulation, eliminating tinnitus and reducing pain that occurs due to tinnitus.

  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and coffee - Coffee, nicotine and alcohol are the silent killers for your hearing health! Although the actual reason is not quite known, these chemicals trigger tinnitus problems. So have a balanced and healthy diet by eliminating caffeinated coffee, nicotine and alcohol from your diet chart.

  • Horse chestnut - Researches proved that this herb is a very effective and powerful treatment of hearing loss. Since, in a majority of the cases, tinnitus is caused as a result of hearing loss, this herb can also treat this problem.

  • Coconut Oil and other Essential Oils - Coconut oil, along with other essential oils, is considered a very good treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus in many cultures. Apart from that, these oils also have excellent medicinal properties which treat insomnia and help a person to relax better, improve one’s state of mind, stimulate blood circulation and promote cellular repair and regeneration.

 

How to Manage Tinnitus?

Before starting a treatment of your tinnitus problems, your Audiologist will first analyse and find out the underlying cause of tinnitus. The various steps taken by the Audiologists for the treatment of hearing loss, accompanied by tinnitus problems include -

  • Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax that has been accumulated excessively, thus creating a blockage in the ear canal - can decrease tinnitus symptoms.

  • Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery or some other remedy to address the problems of tinnitus and the treatment of hearing loss.

  • Changing your medication. If a medication that you have been taking for a while appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the dosage, or switching to a different medication as its substitute that will not be harmful for your ears.

  • Noise Suppression. In some cases, your Audiologist may even suggest you some white noise machines or other masking devices, and even hearing aids that might help to suppress the annoying ringing sounds typical to the problem of tinnitus.

  • Medication. Although drugs cannot completely cure tinnitus, some medications however, have proven to be quite effective in at least reducing the severity or complications of the problem to some extent. These include Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, - which is generally used in cases of severe tinnitus, and Alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax). However, these are the last options that any Audiologist would opt for, as these medications and drugs often have tremendous side-effects.

 

Prognosis

Since there is no such proper cure of tinnitus, and people generally learn to accept it and get used to it over time, the problem of tinnitus remains quite a significant one - at least for a minority group.

But why not try to prevent it at least, and in more adverse cases - why not start an early treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus? Now that you are aware of these simple home remedial tips for preventing tinnitus, it would be foolish on your part to accept it and live your whole life with it! Why not try to make your life a better one? You deserve to live better, don’t you?