Tinnitus refers to a ringing in the ears that often accompanies hearing loss. An estimated 50 to 60 million people in the US experience these symptoms, especially as they grow older. While tinnitus rarely indicates a serious condition, it can be challenging to live with.
Most forms of tinnitus are caused by your nerves reacting to abnormal electrical signals that your ears are sending to your brain. While it’s usually called ringing in the ears, it can be any kind of sound, including whistling, buzzing, or roaring.
What Is Tinnitus?
For some people, there’s a condition that can interfere with or rob them of the joy of listening to their favorite sounds. It can also rob them of many of life’s pleasures. That condition is tinnitus.
What is tinnitus? Tinnitus is hearing a sound inside your ear when the sound doesn’t exist outside of your ear. The definition for the word tinnitus means ringing. But it’s not always limited to ringing.
People who suffer from tinnitus might hear a variety of noises including ringing or buzzing or a high-pitched whine in their ear. Millions of people struggle with tinnitus and the condition often affects just one ear but can be in both. In some rare cases, the patient has a medical condition, which is a cause behind the tinnitus.
Often called phantom noises because they can’t be heard outside the ear, the sound these noises give off can range from a dull, annoying buzz to a sharp, high-pitched whining noise.
For the cases that are dull and merely annoying, the tinnitus is more easily ignored. But some cases of tinnitus can reach the point where the noise can make it hard to get any work done.
The noise in the ear can reach such a pitch that it can cause you to miss parts of conversations around you or interrupt any activity that requires listening. Some of these cases can quickly become intolerable.
Tinnitus can be chronic and ongoing, in which case it doesn’t ever let up. However, tinnitus can also be transient or temporary and only show up unexpectedly at random times.
There can be reasons behind any sudden onset of the condition – and that occurs when auditory signals processed by the brain fail to properly translate the signal. Any tinnitus that suddenly appears after a virus should be checked out by a doctor.
The symptoms of tinnitus can vary and no two people will report the exact same symptoms, but most people who have the condition report hearing a low pitched buzzing sound or hissing.
People with tinnitus can also hear a roaring or a whistling sound like the high-pitched noise a teakettle can give off. The high-pitched ringing appears to be the most common sound. Many people also get the feeling that something is lodged in or clogging the ear, making hearing more difficult.
If you think you have tinnitus, it’s important to see your doctor to determine what type of tinnitus you have and what your options are.
How you can live with tinnitus Video
Meanwhile, take a look at these tips for eliminating the symptoms or minimizing their impact on your life.
Treating Tinnitus That Has a Known Cause
Tinnitus can have many causes. Your doctor will perform tests and ask about your medical history to determine what’s appropriate for your symptoms.
These tips may help:
- Wait it out. Tinnitus that follows exposure to loud noise is usually temporary. To prevent future damage, avoid loud noises or wear protective gear.
- Check your medication. A number of common drugs can trigger tinnitus. That includes aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and some antibiotics and cancer drugs. Talk with your doctor about changing your prescription.
- Remove ear wax. Impacted ear wax can also be a factor. To be safe, let your doctor remove it rather than trying to do it yourself.
- Treat related conditions. In rare cases, tinnitus may be a sign of underlying issues, including vascular conditions or tumors. Proper treatment can help restore your health.
- Recognize pulsatile tinnitus. Unlike other forms of tinnitus, this one produces sounds that your doctor can hear too because it’s caused by the blood circulating in your body. Your doctor can treat any related conditions and may recommend medication and lifestyle changes.
Treating Tinnitus When the Cause is Unknown
In some cases, tinnitus has no clear cause or appears to be related to aging. You may still find significant relief through various treatments and coping methods.
Tinnitus Cures That Work – These may help alleviate the noise:
- Tinnitus Masker – Mask the sound. Special equipment or an ordinary fan can provide background noise to make the sounds in your ears less perceptible. You might want to test an inexpensive method first before investing in more expensive devices.
- Wear a hearing aid. Hearing aids can reduce your tinnitus and enhance your hearing. A trained audiologist can help you select a tinnitus masker or any kind of model that you may need.
- Relax your muscles. Muscle tension can aggravate tinnitus. Tell your doctor if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth. They may recommend massage therapy.
- Practice self-care. Coping with tinnitus at night. Tinnitus can interfere with your sleep and make it more difficult to deal with discomfort. Make an extra effort to eat well, exercise, and get adequate rest. You may also want to avoid potential irritants such as tobacco, alcohol, and excessive caffeine.
- Try therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and tinnitus retraining therapy have both shown promising results. CBT generally lasts a few months and can help you learn coping skills. TRT involves wearing a special device for a year or more to help your auditory system become less aroused by the noises.
- Consider medication. There is no drug specifically for tinnitus. However, your doctor may recommend antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, depending on your individual symptoms.
- Quit the stress. Stressing about it, or anything else can increase the symptoms of Tinnitus. Why? When you are feeling stressed, your hearing system becomes much more sensitive. This is a leftover response from our early days when we needed to increase our hearing ability in order to stay safe. While you may not notice this effect in your everyday life, when you have Tinnitus this can make the ringing in your ears worse.
- Try Alternative Remedies. Ginko Biloba is a natural treatment, although the science for treating Tinnitus with Ginko isn’t completely understood, many people have tried it and said it has helped with their symptoms. Others have reported that other natural remedies such as multiple B vitamins and Zinc can also help with the symptoms of Tinnitus.
You can live with tinnitus, there are many effective treatments for tinnitus and hearing loss. Talk with your doctor about your options, consider wearing a hearing aid, and try other remedies that can reduce the ringing sounds and help you to hear better.
Although there is no definite cure for Tinnitus as of yet, it often just goes away on its own. But this doesn’t make living with Tinnitus any easier, especially when there is a flare-up, which disrupts your life