Is Tinnitus Driving You Crazy?

ESTIMATE 2-MINUTE READ

Tinnitus is the percep­tion of sound when no actual external noise is present.

Tinnitus Definition

Pin

Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. It also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. There is currently no scientifically-validated cure for most types of tinnitus.

It is not an ailment in itself. Rather, it is sympto­matic of an underlying cause. It differs from a similar condition called hyperacusis. The latter is an acute sensitivity to certain frequencies of external sound, whereas tinnitus is the perception of sound within your auditory canal.

While reading this article, you may pronounce tinnitus as either TIN-ni-tus or tin-NI-tus. Either is correct, though emphasis on the second syllable is more common.

Causes of Tinnitus

  • Hearing loss in older people
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Heart or blood vessel problems
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid problems
  • Excessive wax buildup
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Certain medicines

Tinnitus is often associated with exposure to loud, traumatic noises. Nearly everyone has had temporary tinnitus after an extremely loud sound like an automobile backfire or concert.

Our bodies normally produce somatic sounds that we usually do not notice. In the absence of external noise we may hear somatic sounds. Ear plugs or wax buildup can also draw our attention to somatic sounds.

The prevalence of earbuds or in-ear earphones accompanied with prolonged loud volume may contribute to tinnitus. Some individuals question whether our ears are affected by the constant whirling of background computers, fans, printers, and other office equipment.

Human beings are normally able to detect sounds in the range of 20–20,000 Hz. Sounds within this range can damage the hearing. However, inaudible sounds under the frequency of 20 Hz can also affect the ear to some extent.

Scientists are continually finding evidence that tie depreciated hearing to measurable changes in various parts of the brain that go beyond simple hearing loss.

Tinnitus Treatments

Tinnitus is a frustrat­ing ail­ment affecting about 20 percent of the popula­tion. Not only is the inces­sant sound annoying, from a medical stand­point, very little is usually done to eliminate it.

Why Are My Ears Ringing?

You would agree that some hearing is better than none at all. With this in mind, otolaryn­golo­gists rather not risk the possi­bility of deaf­ness to surgically tune out a particular tone.

Acute audible ringing is often a temporary byproduct of expo­sure to a loud sound. Persis­tent tinnitus lasts more than six months. Where tinnitus is persis­tent, non-surgical treat­ment options are attempted with varying results.

If the cause of your tinnitus is exces­sive ear­wax, your otolaryngology doctor will clean out your ears by suction with a small curved instru­ment called a curette, or gently flush it out with warm water.

For an ear infec­tion, an doctor may prescribe ear drops containing hydro­corti­sone to help relieve the itching and an antibiotic to fight the infec­tion.

Anti-anxiety drugs might be prescribed. Masking devices, like hear­ing aids that play white noise may be suggested. You might individually decide to play the radio in the background at home, in your automobile, or at work.

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) includes a combina­tion of in-ear neutral sound genera­tors and months-long personal counsel­ing. Cognitive therapy aims to modify your reaction to persis­tent sound, much as you might tune out the sound of your computer fan or back­ground restau­rant noise.

Reasonable preventative measures include avoidance of loud sounds and limiting alcohol consump­tion. Now, hear this. See an oto­laryn­golo­gist with concerns regarding your hearing, yes you.

To support the writing of useful articles about otolaryngology, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy posters, scientific posters and other products online. You may sponsor specific articles, remit a small donation, or leave an encourag­ing comment to keep the work going. Stay safe and A Bit More Healthy.

Login Register

Kevin Williams is a health advocate, artist, pro­gram­mer, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites. He has 17 years experi­ence as a Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

Add Your Comment