What is Tinnitus?

Are you hearing a ringing or swishing sound that originates in the head or ears and this sound is only heard by you? If yes, then you are most likely suffering from tinnitus which you may also know as ringing in the ear. It is not a disease, but an indicator that there is something wrong with your health.

Who are more prone to ringing in the ears?

Anyone can be a victim of tinnitus, but some people are more susceptible such as:

  • People with fair skin
  • Men
  • Older adults (65 years old and above)
  • People who are exposed in a very noisy environment for a long period of time
  • People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

In the US it is estimated that over 50 million have experienced this perception of noise in one or both ears.

What symptoms are suggestive of tinnitus?

Tinnitus symptoms are categorized into two and these are the following:

  1. Objective symptoms- An observer can literally hear the sounds using a stethoscope or even by just simply listening near the ear.
  2. Subjective symptoms- The sound is only audible to the patient and accounts for almost 95% of the total cases of tinnitus. The patient is hearing sounds even in the absence of external sounds. The sounds are characterized as roaring, buzzing, ringing, hissing, clicking, or even squealing. Because of these sounds, patient will have difficulty concentrating and even sleeping.

What are the different types of tinnitus?

Ear Ringing

    • Subjective tinnitus – This is the most popular type of tinnitus. This usually happens after exposure to an extremely noisy environment. The condition can be very sudden, but will last for a few months to a year. However, this is also one of the dangerous types because it can lead to loss of hearing, especially when the nerve cells are severely damaged.
    • Objective tinnitus – This is the rare type and can only be detected after using a stethoscope or even by closely listening to the ears. The underlying cause is identifiable and can be easily corrected after medical interventions are given.
    • Neurological tinnitus – It is caused by an underlying disorder like Meniere’s disease. This type of disease affects the neurological functioning of the body. The condition is accompanied by other symptoms such as vertigo, dizziness, and loss of balance. The goal of the doctor here is to offer symptomatic relief because up to this day the cure for Meniere’s disease is unknown.
    • Somatic tinnitus – This is caused by the sensory system of the body. It is associated with disruption in the sensory system, which causes spasm, which also leads to the development of tinnitus. Somatic tinnitus only affects one ear and the treatment approach varies depending on the symptoms present as well as the general condition of the patient.
    • Pusatile tinnitus – Tensor tympani spasm can cause pusatile tinnitus or abnormal sounds and sensations in an ear.  See the video below for an example.

What are some possible treatments?

Is tinnitus curable? If yes, then how? Well, for ringing in the ears to be successfully treated the underlying cause should be first found out. Once the underlying cause is treated, then this condition will eventually subside. Depending on the causative factors the doctor will implement any of the following:

  • Removal of excessive earwax
  • Treatment of the underlying blood vessel condition
  • Modification of the existing medication

There are instances when the underlying cause is not identified. If this is the case, the doctor will come up with alternative ways to suppress the sounds. There are now devices, which are very effective in suppressing sounds such as masking device, hearing aid, and white noise machine. To reduce the annoying symptoms, the doctor will recommend certain medications such as alprazolam, acamprosate, and drugs categorized as tricyclic antidepressants.


Can ear ringing be prevented?

The good news about tinnitus is that it can be completely avoided. All you need to do is to stick with preventive measures such as:

  • Keeping the ears clean at all times.
  • Wearing ear plugs when exposed in a very noisy environment.
  • Make it a habit to exercise regularly as it has been proven effective in reducing the risk of developing tinnitus.
  • Take good care of your health, especially the general condition of your cardiovascular system.

There is a cure for tinnitus.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, do not lose hope because help is readily available. There are many different treatment approaches for tinnitus and all you need to do is to choose the one that best suit your health condition. You might want to consult your doctor and discuss the best treatment management method for your condition.

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