What is tinnitus
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Tinnitus is a condition wherein a person hears a continuous ringing sound in the absence of external sound. It originates from the Latin word “Tinnituae” that means ringing. However what is tinnitus for some people may differ in presentation for others and instead of hearing a ringing sound it can also be heard as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring, ticking or humming sound.
Diagnosing the severity of tinnitus can be difficult as its symptoms can be subjective individually. What is tinnitus for one person can be totally different for another individual in terms of sounds heard, discomfort and severity. Tinnitus can be assessed with the use of diagnostic tests like audio-gram and ABR (Auditory Brain stem response) to find the causative factor and the pattern of its occurrence.
So what is tinnitus in relation to the normal hearing process? It affects normal hearing by damaging the receptor cells responsible in receiving signals that gets transmitted to the brain. These cells connect to the brain via the neural loop which controls the frequency of the sound coming in to the brain. When the receptor cells are damaged it sends continuous signals to the brain which are interpreted into excessive decibels of sounds than the normal one which explains why there is continuous ringing heard by tinnitus patients. Even in the absence of external sound these false signals from the damaged receptor cells reaches the brain which accounts for the continuous ringing sound.
There are two types of tinnitus namely 1.) Otic tinnitus, damage to the nerves in the inner ear; and 2.) Somatic tinnitus, damage outside the inner ear.
Depending on what is tinnitus for an affected individual, its causes may also vary and may be classified as follows.
- Hearing loss and other otological causes – tinnitus can be due to damage to inner ear structures from infection, middle effusion, hearing loss due to exposure to continuous loud sounds, Meniere’s syndrome and accumulation of ear wax. Some medications may also cause tinnitus as its side effect. Examples of these medicines are aspirin, bleomycin furosemide, cisplatin and aminoglycosides.
- Neurological causes – head injuries and multiple sclerosis.
- Metabolic conditions – vitamin B12 deficiency can cause tinnitus
- Psychological disturbances – anxiety, depression and psychosis can lead to occurrences of tinnitus
What is Tinnitus – Living with the condition
Living with tinnitus can be very uncomfortable and potential damage that can lead to hearing loss is possible which is why preventing the occurrence of such condition with Lipoflavinoids is important. So what is tinnitus prevention and how can we practice such? Start by avoiding exposure to loud noise. If the environment you are in is exposed to such loud noise, you can use earplugs to control the frequency of sound that is transmitted to stop further damage to the receptor cells. Avoid medications that can cause tinnitus.
Treatment is available and varies depending on the cause. After a doctor diagnoses a person with tinnitus, treatment can be started. Surgery with gamma rays radiation can remove tumors that cause tinnitus. In cases where tinnitus is brought by a condition called palatal tremor, botox treatment is effective.