Tinnitus is the medical term used for ringing in ears. It is hearing loud ringing or hissing or whistling sound in the ears. The frequency of noise may vary from low to high pitch and it can be heard now and then or as continuous stretch. Tinnitus or ringing of ears is seen in 50 million adults in America alone. This can cause irritation to the affected person and in severe cases it can affect your potential at workplace or your relationships.
Ringing in ears do not cause hearing loss and in fact the person becomes highly sensitive to even small sound. Some people may find it annoying and it can affect their quality sleep also causing psychological problems. This condition can be caused by several factors including ear infections. Treatment for ringing in ears is available in the form of medications, surgery, using masking device etc.
Tinnitus Symptoms :
The main symptom of tinnitus is hearing abnormal loud noise in the ear. Tinnitus can occur in the inner ear, middle ear or even the outer ear. For some people in addition to loud noise, they can get ear pain and difficulty in sleeping due to stress. Frequent loud noise can cause anxiety or depression and difficulty in concentration.
What Causes Ringing In The Ears :
Working in atmosphere prone to loud noise is the major cause of tinnitus. Gradually this condition can cause reduction in hearing capacity. Such noises can cause damage to the sensitive cells of the ear. For instance, musicians, carpenters, pilots and landscapers are at high risk for developing tinnitus since their work involves hearing loud noise most of the time. People whose job involves gun making and other musical instruments can also develop this condition.
Other factors like frequent ear infections and formation of tumor in the ear can cause tinnitus. Intake of drugs like strong antibiotics, aspirin, sedatives and prolonged use of antidepressant medications can cause tinnitus. Aging is also one of the major causes for getting tinnitus. Wear and tear of the inner cells of the ear can lead to deterioration of the cochlea of the ear.
Certain medical conditions like Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis, high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems and allergies can cause tinnitus. Having severe problems in the neck or jaw region can affect the ear causing tinnitus. Any sudden injury to the neck or head can produce loud noise in the ear. Injury that damages the vestibulocochlear nerve of the ear can cause tinnitus.
Your doctor may use audiometry test for detecting tinnitus and its root cause. He may check for neck or head injury and order for imaging tests like X-ray, CT or MRI scanning.
Tinnitus Treatment :
Loss of hearing due to tinnitus is not the same for all. The intensity of problem may vary depending on age and health condition and root cause. Your doctor will treat the underlying issue first to get relief from symptoms of tinnitus. If any medications are causing such noise in the ear, your GP may provide suitable alternative for the problem. If buildup of ear wax and infection is causing tinnitus, he may thoroughly clean your ears. After cleaning he may prescribe suitable steroid drugs to prevent further infection.
In case tumor is the root cause of the problem surgery is to be done for removing the tumor. Medications like alprazolam and other benzodiazepine drugs, corticosteroid drugs, and Cytotec and other prostaglandin drugs are recommended for treating tinnitus. Retraining therapy is given for tinnitus to get back the normal sensation in the nerve path of the ears. Counseling can help in developing anxiety or stress due to this condition.
Wearing a small device like sound generator can help in preventing the symptoms. Masking and stress reduction techniques like yoga/meditation can give some relief. Living with tinnitus can be bothersome. You may be hearing what other people do not hear and sometimes you will be able to hear only loud frequency sound and not normal sound. Tinnitus can be more nuisance particularly during night when there is complete silence around. You can play soothing music in the background or tune the radio for hearing soft music. Develop a routine time for sleeping and working. Avoid drinking and smoking. You can join a support group in your area to get more help.