Tinnitus is known as a ringing ear issue but can also present as a buzzing, hissing or whining sound. Any high pitched sound that has no external source is considered to be tinnitus. In other words, this is a phantom noise that is created by damage to the ear or to the brain and is not real.
The sound can present in either one ear or both and can be acute (occasional) or chronic (persistent or constant). Severe tinnitus often dissipates after a short period or can be relieved by applying mild pressure to the ear or blocking the ears.If you suffer from this condition you will understand how annoying it can be.
There is a solution
Chronic tinnitus is constant or consistent and does not resolve on its own or by blocking the ears. This can be a difficult issue that will affect the quality of life of people suffering from the constant phantom noise.
Acute tinnitus most often results from being exposed to loud noise for an extended period or sudden extreme, or explosive sound. The ringing or buzzing lasts only for a short time after exposure and should resolve naturally unless the ear has been damaged.
It may be because of noise or silence. Our brains are trained to tune out ambient noise that we are exposed to regularly. A lack of ambient noise can cause the brain to fill silence or the void with a buzzing sound.
Chronic tinnitus, on the other hand, may have more severe cases. Most often, it is a sign of some extent of hearing the loss in one or both ears. Other causes may be related to:
– Damage to other parts of the middle or inner ear.
– A build-up of wax in the ear.
– Vascular or blood vessel conditions.
– Constant exposure to loud noise.
– Certain medications can cause tinnitus.
– Certain illnesses or health conditions can result in tinnitus.
An audiologist will assess a patient’s medical history as well as perform an audiological exam to diagnose tinnitus. The audiologist may refer a patient to an ENT (Ear, nose, and throat) specialist to confirm the diagnosis or vice versa.
These specialists will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis as well as determine the cause of the phantom noise. It is advised to get a second opinion in the event of persistent or constant noise in the ear.
What Is Tinnitus Treatment?
There is a broad range of different treatments for tinnitus depending mostly on the cause of the condition. Removal of wax build-up will resolve the problem immediately in some people while those who have hearing loss may like the use of a hearing aid. Treatments are also available for underlying vascular conditions to resolve tinnitus.
If the tinnitus is a side-effect of medication, it is recommended to discontinue use and find an alternative medicine. However, it is necessary to weigh up the health benefits of the drug versus the patient’s ability to live with the phantom noise.
For those suffering from trauma or damage to the middle or inner ear, there may be no medical treatment to relieve the condition. However, a specialist may recommend an increase in surrounding noise such as playing music in the background or creating outside ambient noise. While this doesn’t fix the issue, it does distract the brain from the constant phantom noise that is a distraction to normal life.
Counseling is also recommended for patients where the condition cannot be remedied or resolved. This can assist them with applying specific techniques (such as tinnitus retraining) for living with tinnitus and not allowing it to affect their daily living. It is particularly important for hearing loss sufferers to help them learn to cope with both their loss and the presentation of tinnitus.
There are certain medications such as tricyclic antidepressants and Alprazolam that may be useful to some degree in reducing or resolving the condition in some patients. However, there are many side effects of these drugs that may preclude their use for treatment of this condition.
Some alternative therapies can be successful in alleviating the symptoms. Acupuncture, hypnosis as well as some types of vitamin and mineral supplements (especially the B group of vitamins) may relieve the severity of tinnitus.
Currently, clinical trials into the effectiveness of neuromodulation through transcranial magnetic stimulation are being researched as an effective means of resolving tinnitus in some patients. This is a non-invasive therapy that is painless but has so far been found only to reduce the symptoms in some people.
Unfortunately, most people suffering from chronic tinnitus need to learn to live with the condition. Finding out more about what is tinnitus and the causes can, however, help determine if a treatment is available.