Tinnitus is a condition where you hear sounds from inside your body rather than from an external source. It is a common problem that affects about 20% of people. It is, however, more common in older people. Tinnitus is usually caused by conditions like ear injuries and hearing loss from old age. Most of the time, the condition improves when the underlying cause is addressed.
This is not a serious condition and it comes and goes for some individuals. The condition can be quite distressing and can affect their quality of life for other people. Go to a doctor if you suspect you may have tinnitus to rule out any serious medical conditions.
Types of Tinnitus
- Subjective: This is the most common type. It occurs when one is exposed to excessive noise. Subjective tinnitus appears and then disappears. In most cases, it lasts for 3 to 12 months. It’s only in rare cases where it never stops.
- Neurological: This is a form caused by underlying disorders, like Meniere’s disease. The condition affects the auditory functioning of the brain.
- Somatic: This form attacks the sensory system. It can be caused or worsened by something else going on in the sensory system.
- Objective: This is the rarest form. It is due to vascular deformities or involuntary contractions of muscles. This is the only type of tinnitus that a doctor can hear through a stethoscope. The noise is usually a regular noise that moves in time with someone’s heartbeat. Luckily, objective tinnitus is treatable through the use of hearing aids.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
Regardless of the type, it causes ringing in one or both ears in the absence of external sound. The most common symptom includes hearing buzzing, clicking, roaring, humming, and hissing sounds.
Diagnosis of Tinnitus
The doctor physically examines the ears or conducts a hearing test. During a hearing test, an audiologist will transmit sounds to one ear through headphones. The patient then responds by making a gesture when they hear each of the sounds. A doctor diagnoses tinnitus by comparing what they’re hearing to what someone of their sex and age group would hear. Sometimes, the doctor can use imaging tests to assess for any damage or deformities in the ears.
How to Treat Tinnitus
There is no universal treatment that works for everyone. If the cause of your tinnitus is an underlying condition, addressing that can eliminate or lessen your symptoms. For instance, something as simple as removing earwax buildup can improve your tinnitus. If the doctor can’t find an underlying cause, they may recommend other treatment options like:
- Sound Therapy: Sound therapy helps with management. It involves the use of neutral noises to distract you from the tinnitus sounds you are hearing.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This helps change your thinking about your tinnitus. The sounds become less noticeable or you get used to them in the long run.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT): This therapy retrains your brain on how to respond to the tinnitus sounds. As a result, you will begin turning the sounds out and eventually stop noticing them.
- Counseling: This is standard therapy, where you’d be equipped with more knowledge about your tinnitus. You also will learn better ways of coping with the condition.
How to Manage Tinnitus
This ailment has no known cure. The least you can do is find ways of managing and living with the condition.
- Seek support from people who are also living with the condition and learn how to cope
- Find ways of managing stress and depression, as these can worsen your tinnitus
- If your tinnitus is age-related, hearing aids can make your tinnitus less noticeable
- Limit your caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol consumption since these substances affect blood flow and worsen tinnitus
- Are there serious complications caused by tinnitus? Sometimes tinnitus can lead to sleep and concentration problems, memory issues, stress, depression, and even headaches.
- What causes tinnitus besides excessive noise exposure? Ear canal blockage, ear infections, neck and head injuries, jaw joint dysfunction, and certain medications can cause tinnitus.
- Does tinnitus damage hearing? Tinnitus does not worsen or damage your hearing in any way.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!