Tinnitus is an auditory problem that affects many people in the world. Approximately 15 to 20% of people in the world have tinnitus in varying degrees. It is associated with a lot of emotional and physical distress and at times it can get difficult for people to focus on their work.
It is an illness in which people experience various kinds of sounds like whistling, hissing, ringing and clicking in their heads or ears without the presence of an external sound. The sound can be loud or soft, high pitched or even low pitched, vague music or voice can be heard rarely.
Tinnitus is of 2 types-
Objective tinnitus– It can be described as the tinnitus when the doctor can also hear the noise while examining, it happens because of a blood vessel problem and it is rare. People who have objective tinnitus can hear the sounds that others can also hear. Objective tinnitus happens because of overused muscles that are present in the ear, a lot of blood flow and vibrations that occur in the ear.
Subjective tinnitus– Only the person who has tinnitus can hear the sound. It can happen because of ear problems in the middle, inner or outer ear. Exposure to noise can be the reason why subjective tinnitus happens, it can also be caused because of some medicines. The sound comes from the brain or the auditory system which is damaged.
CAUSES OF TINNITUS
- Continuous and prolonged exposure to sounds.
- Using earphones for a long period of time.
Other illnesses and conditions can cause Tinnitus such as:
- The side effects of any of more than two hundred prescription and nonprescription drugs like Aspirin, many sedatives, anti-inflammatory medicines, antidepressants, quinine medicines and antibiotics.
- The decrease in the functioning of other parts of the ear or cochlea because of the ageing process which is natural.
- An infection in the ear, benign tumour (auditory nerve), building up of wax that results in the ear getting blocked.
- Presence of otosclerosis, in which the small bones of the middle ear become stiff.
- Circulatory problems, allergies, anaemia, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, a thyroid gland that is underactive, diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Neck and head injuries.
- Jaw or neck problems.
- Meniere’s disease is a type of disease that affects the ears inside the area.
- Depression and stress.
- Tobacco users have a high chance of having Tinnitus.
SYMPTOMS OF TINNITUS
The symptoms of tinnitus are-
- Noise in the ears like hissing, roaring, buzzing, ringing or whistling.
- Continuous or intermittent noise.
- Mostly the person with tinnitus can only hear the sounds.
- Tinnitus patients who hear loud sound can find it extremely difficult or impossible to concentrate or sleep.
HOW IS TINNITUS DIAGNOSED?
To diagnose Tinnitus the head, neck and ears will be examined by the doctor. The doctor will conduct tests like-
- HEARING TEST– A person will sit inside a soundproof room and then the person will have to wear earphones through which sounds will be played into one ear at a time. The person has to indicate when he/she hears the sound. This can identify the causes of tinnitus.
- IMAGING TESTS– Imaging tests like MRI or CT scans might be required depending on the cause of tinnitus.
- TINNITUS SOUND MATCHING– The audiologist plays different kinds of sounds to the patient of tinnitus. The individual tries to recognize the sound that matches to the sound that he/she hears.
- PURE –TONE TESTS– A person will be exposed to a variety of sounds at different frequencies and levels. By conducting this test the audiologist can know how well a person hears and this can help the audiologist to say whether hearing damage has caused tinnitus or no.
- TYMPANOGRAM– In this, a testing a device is used that measures the functioning of the inner ear. Through this test, it can be found out whether the tympanic membrane is functioning well or no.
- MINIMUM MASKING LEVEL– Sounds are played at different volumes by the health professional; the person recognizes the lowest sound volume at which the symptoms of tinnitus can no longer be heard. This test is used for masking treatment like hearing aids.
WAYS TO TREAT TINNITUS
If a health condition has caused tinnitus then steps will be taken by the doctor to decrease the noise. Examples are-
White noise machines: The sound can be suppressed through the white noise. An electronic device may be suggested by the doctor. The devices are-
- Masking devices– They are similar to the hearing aids and are worn in the ears. A low- level, continuous white noise is produced by the devices that suppress the symptoms of tinnitus.
- Hearing aids– This is helpful if the person has tinnitus or hearing problems.
- White noise machines– They are helpful in treating tinnitus as they produce environmental sounds of ocean waves and falling rains. White noise machines with pillow speakers can help a person to sleep.
Tinnitus retraining therapy– It is a process in which a person learns to cope with his/her tinnitus on a subconscious and conscious level.
This therapy requires the co-operation with the doctors. It is a psychological therapy that teaches the person who has tinnitus to not pay attention to the tinnitus noise, this therapy includes stress management and deep relaxation exercises. The aim of this therapy is to remove the anxiety of the person and divert his/her concentration from the tinnitus noise.
Treating a blood vessel condition– Surgery, medication or other treatment can be used in vascular conditions to see and treat the problem.
Changing the medication– If a particular medicine that a person is taking has caused tinnitus then the doctor will advise taking a different medicine or will tell the person to stop or reduce that particular medicine that has caused tinnitus
Removal of earwax– The symptoms of tinnitus can be reduced when the impacted earwax is removed.Leave a reply →