What is Tinnitus and Ways for Treating it
Have you ever sat in a silent room and all of sudden heard a ringing or buzzing sound in your ear for a few seconds? Chances are, you’ve experienced tinnitus. It can be a perception of any of the following sounds: buzzing, ringing, roaring, clicking, or hissing. Tinnitus affects about 15 to 20 people across the entire world population, which means there isn’t a reason to get worried if you are experiencing it. Let’s look into exactly what tinnitus is, how to treat it, and the most effective remedies.
What is Tinnitus?
It’s important to note that tinnitus itself is not considered a condition, it is more commonly referred to as a symptom. In reality, tinnitus can be experienced by many people without having a serious hearing condition present. This is especially common during complete silence, during which our ears fill the silent space with our perception of noise. Since our ears are accustomed to loud sounds throughout the entire day throughout our lives, it becomes difficult for them to contemplate complete silence. From here, you may experience noise filling your ears for a duration of only a few seconds at a time.
However, there are certain signs to look out for to understand if the tinnitus you are experiencing is actually a symptom of an underlying health condition. In these cases, it is best to consult with a hearing specialist and undergo an examination:
- Tinnitus which lasts for several minutes at a time,
- Tinnitus which frequently appears over the course of a week,
- Tinnitus obtained after a respiratory infection (a cold),
- You experience loss of hearing or dizziness with the tinnitus,
- Tinnitus sounds like your heartbeat or pulsations.
It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of tinnitus. It can either emerge from an external stimulus or be a symptom of an underlying disease. For example, exposure to very loud noise may be sufficient in causing permanent damage to the ear, which in its turn may cause tinnitus to emerge. Tinnitus is a symptom of Meniere’s disease which occurs in the inner ear and impacts our balance mechanism. Other causes of tinnitus include earwax buildup, blood pressure fluctuations, and fluid in the eardrum.
What Tinnitus Sounds Like
Tinnitus is a relatively subjective sound, meaning that others cannot hear the same sound you are hearing. Therefore, it has been described in different ways by various patients but essentially it is thought that they all describe the same sound. The most common sound that is associated with tinnitus is a mild to loud ringing in the ear. Other types of sounds are but are not limited to:
- Music or singing
Typically the sound should be low-pitched if it persists for a longer duration, with the possibility of high pitches for short intervals. However, if the pitch interferes with your ability to hear surrounding sounds, then it’s best to get an examination.
Curing and Treating Tinnitus
Tinnitus does not have a single cure-all approach to being treated. Treatment depends on the underlying condition and is assigned on a case-by-case basis. Here a few of the most common treatment procedures:
- Earwax removal ‒ in cases of earwax buildup, an ear wax removal procedure may be sufficient in relieving the patient’s tinnitus.
- Medication changes ‒ it is possible to acquire tinnitus as a symptom of various medications. If your current medication is found as the source of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend changing it.
- Hearing aids ‒ if you are experiencing hearing loss from loud sound exposure or head injury, a hearing aid may be significantly helpful. Many modern hearing aid models have features directed specially for tinnitus.
- Masking device ‒ this option is like a combination of hearing aids and a white noise machine. It is worn inside your ear and produces continuous white noise to soothe your tinnitus.
- Relaxation and therapy ‒ although tinnitus is a physical occurrence, patients commonly find that their tinnitus is heightened when they are stressed. Therefore, relaxation methods such as therapy and acupuncture may maintain tinnitus to a less bothersome level.
The videos below show in detail how a tinnitus program works between a hearing aid and a patient’s ears.
If there is an underlying health condition, it is best to seek treatment of it in order to be free from the tinnitus associated with it. However, sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint an underlying health condition that needs to be treated, so patients are advised to find soothing methods to make the sound less bothersome. Here are a few lifestyle changes and home remedies to try in order to reduce your tinnitus:
- White noise machines ‒ sleeping with a white noise machine in the room may be helpful by providing other sounds for your ears to focus on instead of the tinnitus-induced ringing. This approach is commonly referred to as ‘masking’ and can be done throughout the day as well to suppress the noise.
- Avoid irritants ‒ pinpointing irritants then avoiding exposure to them is an effective method to keep your tinnitus from interfering with day-to-day activities. For example, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are common irritants found in most people who experience tinnitus. You should control consumption in order to yield the best results.
- Stay stress-free ‒ as mentioned previously, stress can make your tinnitus worse. Find the best stress management method that works for you and maintain a stress-free mindset as much as possible.
With this in mind, do not merely rely on home remedies if your symptoms worsen over time.
Everyone’s tinnitus experience is different and what worked for someone else may not work for you. It’s best to determine what is the cause of your tinnitus and then identify the best treatment options. Treating your tinnitus may be as simple as a single earwax removal appointment or as long-term as requiring a hearing aid due to permanent ear damage. Nonetheless, it is possible to treat and manage your tinnitus in a way that does not interfere with your lifestyle.