Tinnitus is present in most of the population with almost 22% of the people being affected. In many instances, the person is not aware or ignores the problem because it is so insignificant. The constant ringing in the ears can be controlled and one can lead an almost normal life by taking proper steps.[toc]
Getting to know tinnitus
This tinnitus is not a medical condition but a precursor for other conditions like circulatory system disorder, ear loss or elevated blood pressure. Though it is not serious by any type of reckoning, it can prove meddlesome and prevent people from carrying out their regular activities by disturbing their concentration. This ailment might be persistent or might only occur at particular instances.
You can suffer from two kinds of tinnitus:
In subjective type the ailment projects as the ringing sound in the ear that only you can hear. When your auditory nerve is affected or you have problems within the outer, inner, in the brain or middle ear, the interference is treated by the brain as auditory signals.
Sometimes you might have a condition of the inner ear-bone or some problem with the blood vessel in the ear that results in the second condition – objective tinnitus. In this type, the examining doctor can hear the sound in the ear. Though rare, it can cause problems for the affected person.
How tinnitus can change your life
This constant ringing in the ears can do one or more of the following to upset you.
- Cause ear pain
- Increase anxiety and stress in your life
- Cause difficulty in concentrating
- Create hearing problems
- Increase depression
- Make it difficult to sleep
- Muscle spasms: The muscle in the palate, the roof of your mouth will have spasms if you have any neurological disease. This makes your ear pressure to drop and rise of its own accord.
- Nerve damage: This is a damaged nerve leading to the brain. Sound is not real but imagined.
- Condition of trauma: Many instances of suffering make the pressure in the ear to change. Parachute diving and underwater diving are some examples.
- Damage to hair cells in ear: The hair in the ear catches sound and transmits them to the brain. Earwax impaction or damage to the hair cells due to ototoxic medicine will cause disturbances.
- Age: When one grows old, the hearing faculty becomes dull.
- Changes of volume of blood flow: Blood flowing in the vessels near the ear will change in volume due to disease or drugs. This can also produce abnormal sounds in the ear.
- TMJ abnormality: Abnormalities in temporo-mandibular joint results in clicking sounds.
- Otosclerosis: This affliction happens due to one reason alone. It results from abnormal growth of middle ear bone.
- Menieres disease: At times fluctuations of fluid pressure in inner ear might lead to tinnitus which might then lead to this affliction.
- Tumor: Tumors could impact nerve in the ear leading to disturbances.
- Drugs: Ototoxic drugs could lead to this affliction. Inside the ear, hair cells that aid hearing might be damaged.
This damage occurs when you become exposed to loud sounds or take ototoxic drugs. When cells of the brain do not receive the regular signals leading to abnormal neuron activity. This results in the illusion of sound.
Meniere’s disease happens due to disorder in balance of inner ear. This can result in the loud or soft buzzing noise.
Hearing loss is much like the amputee and the pain he experiences in the limb he is missing. Signals from the nerves try hard and harder to pick up signals and in the process overstress the neurons. This results in phantom noises.
Certain drugs can increase or be the cause of tinnitus. Here are some of them.
- Antimalarial drugs – Quinine
- Loop diuretics – furosemide, bumetanide
- Antibiotics – doxycycline, erythromycin, tetracycline
- Cancer treatment drugs – vincristine, cisplatin
- NSAID – ibuprofen, naproxene
- Antidepressants – clomipramine, imipramine
Who should you see?
Primary evaluation of this ailment is done at the primary health care center by the attending doctor. Tests and assessments must be done by a trained audiologist. While the actual examination will be done by an otolaryngologist, one who is an expert on ear, nose and throat disorders.
Since sound is one way for impairment, protection from sound is needed if you work in a noisy place. Another reason is ototoxic medicines. For those who have some ailment and need ototoxic medicines try to seek alternatives by consulting your physician.
Treatment for this ailment
Changes to lifestyle prove useful when the degree of severity of tinnitus is not too severe. Avoiding caffeine intake could improve your symptoms. So also is the case if you decrease salt intake. If you smoke, stop it. Add zinc supplements in your diet.
Ginkgo Biloba is an herbal supplement given for curing sexual dysfunction, dementia, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus, anxiety and headache. It slows the platelet binding in the body and so care should be taken since it leads to excess bleeding.
Medicines to cure this problem
Melatonin is prescribed for many medical conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, tinnitus and sleeplessness. Since it interferes with your sleep cycle, you must consult your physician before you take this. Here are some common medicines used for curing this problem:
Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine medicine used to suppress functioning of nerves. It might be useful to control symptoms. Antidepressants help to reduce intensity of symptoms. In order to reduce inflammation present in ear middle region, corticosteroid injections are used.
People live with constant sound they hear with different degrees of difficulty. Treatment might help alleviate the symptoms completely or partially. Only when the underlying cause is completely cured, the person can recover fully. Even then there is every chance that it will recur. You cannot cure chronic tinnitus.