Tinnitus, Noises in the Ear

Types of Tinnitus

The perception of sound in the human ear in the absence of any external sound is a condition called tinnitus. This can happen to one ear or both ears or even can be heard in the head. Most people suffer from a ringing noise or buzzing noise, but in cases of some patients it takes the form of a high pitched whining, hissing, humming, or whistling sound.

The exact cause of tinnitus varies from person to person. Measuring tinnitus is also difficult since we cannot measure what the person with tinnitus can hear. Of course there are many tests that can be conducted but the best suggestion is to identify the root cause, then it will be easier to cure or at least help relieve the symptoms.

There are two types of tinnitus, subjective tinnitus or objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus what is found in most people, whereas objective tinnitus affects a minor percentage of the population. People with a ringing or buzzing noise coming from their inner ear and which the doctor is not able to hear with an instrument, means they have subjective tinnitus. If the doctor can hear the noise then it means the person has objective tinnitus.

The most common tinnitus sounds that are heard by the people suffering from this condition are ringing, roaring, hissing, whistling, chirping, screeching, musical sounds and these sounds can be mostly annoying.

Doctor Recommended Tinnitus Treatments

There are many tinnitus treatments and they will vary depending on why the condition developed. Here is a quick guide to the kind of treatments that are generally used to treat the condition:

Medicines: Sometimes tinnitus can be caused by an ear infection, in which case medicines may be prescribed to cure the infection. If you suffer from depression or anxiety then medication may also be prescribed to help you manage the condition, as these are two known triggers for ringing in ears. Unfortunately, there is no specific medicine that is known to work as a cure for tinnitus directly.

Some medication for other conditions is also known to cause tinnitus. In these cases, your doctor may change your medication to solve the problem.

Hearing Aids: If you have tinnitus and impaired hearing, then wearing a hearing aid will make other sounds louder and help to mask the ringing.

Surgery: If a benign tumor is causing your tinnitus then surgery may be required to remove it.

Earwax Removal: Removing excess earwax can help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.

Noise Generators: These are popular tinnitus treatments that help to mask the ringing sound. These are sometimes given as part of a hearing aid, or can simply be used through speakers when trying to sleep, for example.

Complementary Therapy: Not everyone has success with conventional tinnitus treatments, so it may be useful to try complementary therapies. Herbal remedies such as ginkgo biloba have shown some success in some cases, and techniques such as yoga, hypnosis, reflexology and massage may also help.

Positive Thinking: Doctors may recommend that you have treatment such as counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help get rid of negative thoughts about your ringing in ears. Studies have shown that people who have a more positive attitude to the condition generally find it easier to manage.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: Otherwise known as TRT, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy makes use of sound therapy and counseling to help people cope with tinnitus and to ultimately retrain the way the brain views the noise. The aim is for the brain to eventually tune out the noise, making sufferers less aware of it. This may require a number of sessions, which should only be carried out by someone trained in TRT.

Only start tinnitus treatments once you’ve received an official diagnosis from your doctor. Unfortunately none of these treatments is a sure-fire cure, however many people do eventually learn to tune out the noise to the point at which it no longer negatively affects their life.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

Do you have a persistent ringing in your ears? It could be that you’re experiencing tinnitus symptoms: a problem that around one in five people experience in their lifetime. This is a complex condition due to the fact that it can have a wide range of causes, which is why you should always seek an official diagnosis as soon as possible.

Here is a quick guide to the most common tinnitus symptoms to help you understand what might be happening to you:

Unusual Sounds
The main symptom of tinnitus is a ringing in the ears. However, sufferers can also experience a wide range of unusual sounds. These occur even when no external noise is present.

The sounds associated with tinnitus are commonly described as:
* Hissing,
* Whistling,
* Ringing,
* Roaring,
* Buzzing,
* Clicking,
* Humming,
* A beating in time with your heart rate.

You might just hear the noises in one ear or both. The noise can be at any pitch, and there may even be more than one distinguishable sound. The noise may go away and come back, or may be continuous.

Generally, the noises can only be heard by the sufferer. These tinnitus symptoms have a wide range of causes, such as damage to the nerves in the ear, problems with any part of the ear, or even stress.

In some instances, the doctor may be able to hear the ringing sound when they perform an examination. This kind of tinnitus is called “objective” and is usually caused by a problem with blood vessels, a condition in the inner ear bone, or problems with the muscles.

Side Effects
Due to the nature of the sound, tinnitus sufferers may find it difficult to hear external noises, or to concentrate on what they’re doing. These symptoms often get worse in quiet situations, such as lying in bed trying to get to sleep. Stress and anxiety are also known to exacerbate the condition.

Tinnitus affects all individuals differently, which explains why some are able to live with the condition while others are in much distress.

Tinnitus Is Itself A Symptom
It’s important to remember that tinnitus itself is a symptom of an underlying cause. This could be a medical condition, hearing loss related to aging, or damage following exposure to loud noise. Though the cause may not always be known, it’s vital that you visit a doctor to rule out a serious reason behind your tinnitus symptoms.

Tinnitus Maskers

Tinnitus maskers are often used to help make the condition more manageable. For those who suffer from a constant ringing in the ears, it can often be hard to concentrate, to hear, and to fall asleep at night. The principle behind maskers is simply to drown out the sound to help you forget about the ringing.

White Noise
Some of the most popular tinnitus maskers are able to produce white noise. This is the same sound that your radio makes when it isn’t tuned into a particular station, and can help to take your mind off the ringing. A number of specific maskers have been produced for tinnitus sufferers, including generators that can be worn inside the ear (much like a hearing aid), and those that can be played through speakers under a pillow at night.

Other Types of Sound Maskers
In reality, people use all kinds of techniques to mask the sound of their tinnitus. For example, you might like the low noise of a fan in the background, or to keep the TV or radio on all day. Anything that creates background sound can help to take the focus away from the ringing in your ears.

Sound maskers can make use of both artificial and natural sounds depending on the preference of the person using them.

Hearing Aids
In some cases, masking might not be effective if the device used to mask can’t be heard properly. If tinnitus is experienced alongside hearing loss then wearing a hearing aid can often help to relieve the symptoms, as other external noises become louder than the tinnitus.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus maskers are also used as part of tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) but at a lower level. The aim behind this treatment is for the brain to eventually learn to tune out the noise, just as it does with the kinds of external sounds that we all hear in our everyday lives: a process known as “habituation”. This kind of therapy is performed by trained professionals at the same time as counseling to help patients deal with the negative association that they may have with the ringing sounds.

The Success of Tinnitus Maskers
Unfortunately, sound masking doesn’t work with all types of tinnitus. The severity and nature of the condition ranges from person to person. In some cases, switching off the masker can also lead to the sound coming back worse than it was before. For this reason, many people choose to combine tinnitus maskers with other treatments to find a method that works for them.

Can Tinnitus Be Cured?

Has your doctor confirmed that you’re suffering from this condition, then the question of “how to cure tinnitus” is likely to be on your mind. After all, this is a condition that can end up interfering with all aspects of everyday life.

If your tinnitus was caused by an underlying condition then your doctor will advise you on the next step to take. However, in most cases the cause is undetermined and there is no specific cure. Self help methods and other treatments are generally aimed at making the condition more manageable. Here is a quick guide to what you can do to help yourself.

Watch Your Stress Levels
Knowing how to cure tinnitus means knowing what can make it worse. Although stress does not technically cause tinnitus, it can make it more noticeable. This is why it’s important to learn to manage your stress levels. There are many ways to do this: simply exercising more could help to keep your stress levels under control, or you could try techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and yoga.

Reduce Alcohol Intake
Alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, increasing the blood flow throughout your body. This also affects your inner ear and can make the ringing worse. Try to drink less alcohol, or avoid it altogether, if possible.

Cover Up the Noise
The main reason why tinnitus can be so unbearable is that you are always aware of the noise. To help solve this problem, try covering it up with a number of methods. For example, you might keep the radio or a CD on when you’re trying to get to sleep, or have a fan on in the background during the day to distract you.

Avoid Loud Noises
Loud noises will make your tinnitus worse, so stay away from noisy areas and don’t listen to loud music players or televisions.

Join A Support Group
Much of the struggle to do with tinnitus is psychological, so joining a local support group can help. Tinnitus is more common than you might think, and talking to others in the same situation may help you to feel more in control. They may even be able to tell you how to cure tinnitus through methods that members have tried themselves.

Knowing how to cure tinnitus is not an exact science: treatments will vary from person to person. However, the good news is that the condition is very manageable in most cases.

How to Diagnose Tinnitus

Do you experience ear noises, ranging from humming to ringing or buzzing, then you could be suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is itself a symptom of an underlying cause, which is why diagnosis is so important to ensure you receive proper treatment. Here is a quick guide to the diagnostic process.

When You First Visit Your Doctor
When you first see you doctor about ear noise, they will ask you a number of questions about your symptoms and your medical history. You’ll need to tell them things like when the symptoms began, and whether they ever disappear or get worse. You’ll also need to describe the exact type of sound, and in which ear you can hear it, if not in both.

The examination will then go through a number of steps. The doctor will check to see whether a buildup of ear wax could be causing the sounds, and they will check whether the sound can be heard with a stethoscope (for a condition known as objective tinnitus). Certain tests, such as seeing whether your tinnitus gets worse when you clench your jaw, will help to determine whether any underlying condition is to blame.

Extra Tests
Some extra tests may be needed to help get to the bottom of your ear noise. These could include an X-ray, or an MRI scan, balance tests, or blood tests. You will also generally have a complete hearing exam which will help to rule out underlying causes.

Conditions That Can Cause Tinnitus
In the majority of cases, no underlying cause will be found, and you’ll need to start treatments to help manage the condition. However, in some situations it may be that the tinnitus has come about as a result of many different conditions, including:

* Blood vessel problems, which can cause the sound of your heartbeat to be amplified in the ears.
* Stiff inner ear bones, known as otoscelrosis.
* Meniere’s syndrome.

Many of the underlying causes are easily treatable, such as a buildup of ear wax or hypertension, in which case your doctor may be able to completely cure your tinnitus.

However, for many there is no cure for ear noise. It simply comes down to learning how to manage the condition as best you can, and retraining your brain to tune out the sounds. Your doctor may recommend a course of action, or you can start to apply tinnitus self help techniques to your everyday life.

Complementary Therapies for Tinnitus

Research shows that one in five people suffer from a condition that causes a constant ringing or noise in the ear, known as tinnitus.

Although there’s no magic drug that can clear tinnitus, there are a number of treatment methods available. Aside from the options your doctor might suggest, you may also want to try complementary treatments to help manage the condition.

Hypnosis is often used as an alternative treatment to help the sufferer become less aware of the ringing noise. Generally, the noise itself isn’t the main reason why people suffer – it’s the negative perception and reaction to this sound that causes problems. When you use hypnosis, it will help teach your brain that the sound doesn’t matter, so it’ll eventually stop reacting to it.

Ginkgo Biloba
This is an herbal supplement available in many natural health stores. A number of studies have been carried out that look into the effect this herb can have on tinnitus, which have produced mixed results. It was concluded that the supplement didn’t help most people to clear tinnitus, but it may benefit you if you try it. As an added bonus you might also feel some enhanced brain power!

This treatment is used for a number of conditions, including as a way to clear tinnitus. Studies done into the effect of acupuncture showed that there were some improvements for nearly half of all patients who took the treatment, however, the improvements did not generally last. Other studies failed to show an improvement in the condition.

Many people try out complementary therapies assuming that they will be safe. But it’s important to realize that even natural supplements can have unwanted side effects on the body. Though most therapies are safe, it’s important to speak to medical professionals before going ahead. For example, side effects of the ginkgo biloba supplement can include headaches or upset stomachs.

On top of this, it’s also important to rule out any underlying conditions before starting any course of treatment. If your tinnitus has a treatable reason behind it, it’s important that you know what it is and that it’s treated accordingly.

Don’t get discouraged if these complementary treatments fail to clear tinnitus. The nature of the condition means that it’s different for everyone: what worked for someone you know isn’t necessarily going to work for you. In general, looking for ways to manage the condition, and getting rid of the negative associations you may have with it, are helpful in getting your life back to normal.

Common Causes of Tinnitus

The causes of tinnitus are extremely varied, explaining in part why the condition can be so difficult to treat. Tinnitus isn’t technically a disease, but a symptom of an underlying cause. In some cases this cause can be determined, and treatment of the cause will stop the ringing. But in other cases the cause is less obvious and a number of different techniques should be used to manage the problem.

Here is a quick guide to some of the most common causes of tinnitus:

Nerve Damage
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is damage to the nerves inside the inner ear. The way the ear works means that sounds pass from the outer ear, through the middle ear and on to the inner ear. The inner ear contains the nerves that send these sounds to your brain to be interpreted. When the nerves get damaged, unusual impulses can be sent, causing the brain to think that there is sound. This explains the various types of sound that may be heard as a result of tinnitus.

Hearing Loss Through Aging
Hearing loss often happens as we age (known as presbycusis), starting at age 60. This can cause tinnitus when the hearing nerves become less sensitive.

Exposure to Loud Noise
In younger people, a more common reason for nerve damage in the ear is exposure to loud noise. Have you ever been to a loud concert or bar and had a ringing in your ears the next day? This is a temporary type of tinnitus that usually goes away. However, long-term exposure can lead to a permanent ringing. This can occur due to loud portable music playing devices, or the sound of an explosion, for example.

Although earwax is a natural way of protecting the ear, sometimes we can accumulate too much. When this happens, it can cause hearing problems or a ringing in the ears.

Blood Vessel Disorders
Blood vessel disorders are less common causes of tinnitus (a type known as pulsatile tinnitus). These disorders can result from a number of conditions including tumors in the head and neck, high blood pressure (hypertension), malformation of capillaries, and atherosclerosis.

Some medications are known to either cause tinnitus or make it worse. In these cases your doctor may change the medication you’re on. Some of the known medications to have this effect include: diuretics, antibiotics, aspirin, quinine-based medication, and cancer medications.

These are just some of the most common causes of tinnitus, but it can be caused by many other problems including depression, head injuries and more. This is why it’s so important that you seek an official diagnosis: your tinnitus could be a sign that something else is wrong with your health.