That annoying sound that only you can hear is enough to drive anyone crazy. Although doctors may not think that it is as serious as other conditions such as cancer or diabetes, tinnitus can actually be debilitating for the sufferer. There are many cures for tinnitus with varying degrees of effectiveness but before looking into treatment, it is important to understand this condition.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is considered more as a symptom of a defect problem in the body than as an actual disease. These are noises that you hear every now and then or constantly without a source and that can disrupt your sleep patterns or your concentration. The noises can vary from buzzing, hissing, whistling, ringing, chirping, whooshing, squeaking, roaring, etc. What is frustrating is that only you can hear these sounds in most cases.
The only time that another person usually a doctor may be able to hear these sounds is when you suffer from pulsatile tinnitus which will involve you hearing the sound of your heartbeat. Using a hearing device attached to your ear, the doctor may be able to hear these sounds too.
Pulsatile tinnitus causes include suffering from anxiety or stress, suffering from high blood pressure, having arterial damage, depression, the result of capillaries that are malformed, having suffered from neck or head tumors, etc.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Besides pulsatile tinnitus causes discussed previously, there are many causes for tinnitus. Why are you listening these noises? What can be done to eliminate them? These are all valid questions when you are hearing these noises constantly and nobody else is and do not know what to do.
The causes of tinnitus can be as simple as having hurt earwax or an ear infection and once this earwax or ear infection is deal with, the noises may go away.
Other causes may be the result of drug usage which is a common cause of tinnitus. There are a lot of over the counter or prescription drugs that can cause this ringing in your ears. You need to evaluate the medications you are taking and discuss them with your doctor if you are suffering from tinnitus.
Common culprits include aspirin, quinine, diuretics, ibuprofen, some antidepressants, etc. While high dosages may cause this condition, even low dosages may affect some people. You will have to explore other options if the drugs you use on a consistent basis are causing your tinnitus.
Other causes of tinnitus include but are not limited to very loud noises which can damage ears causing hearing loss and increase the risk of developing tinnitus. Loud noises that can impact the ears include listening to iPods or other music devices at very high volumes, power tools, leaf blowers, vacuum cleaners, blenders, lawn mowers, etc.
Head injuries can also increase the risk of developing tinnitus. This is one of the reasons that athletes are very prone to this condition especially football players who are a great risk of suffering head injuries in their profession.
If you suffer from hearing loss due to advancing age, this hearing loss may cause tinnitus. If the bones in the middle of your ear stiffen, your hearing can be affected which may cause tinnitus.
Meniere's disease which is when the fluid level in the middle of the ear rises abnormally causing ear pressure is another cause of tinnitus but to a lesser degree since this is a certain rare condition.
Acoustic neuroma may be another cause of tinnitus. This represents a benign (noncancerous) tumor that may develop in the cranial nerve which starts from the brain to the inner ear and is responsible for hearing as well as maintaining balance. When you have this condition, it may lead to the development of tinnitus but only in one ear.
TMJ disorders may also increase your risk of developing this condition. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are the joints on each side of your head that allow you to open and close your mouth, move your jaw from side to side, eat, etc.
There are many other causes of tinnitus and in many cases, the doctor may just have no idea why you are suffering from this condition.
For any tinnitus sufferer, it is very important to schedule an appointment with a specialist so that he or she can rule out that you are suffering from a treatable condition. In addition to the noises, this condition may cause discomfort and pain.
Tinnitus Risk Factors
As hearing Declines with age, it may increase the risk of developing this condition.
Although women and children may be affected by tinnitus, men are more likely to develop this condition. About one in eight men between the ages of sixty five and seventy four suffer from this condition.
Risk of developing tinnitus is increased when you smoke.
4. Loud noises
This is the most common cause of tinnitus. Exposing yourself to loud noises may result in the damage of the tiny sensory hairs in the ear that are responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. Once damaged, these hairs can not be repaired.
5. Cardiovascular issues
Having high blood pressure or damaged arteries which affect blood flow including that in the inner ear can increase the risk of developing this condition.
What Having Tinnitus Can Do
This is why looking into the various tinnitus treatment options and not giving up hope for a cure is so important because of the following effects that tinnitus may have on your life.
Tinnitus can affect your cognitive ability and you may suffer from memory issues and have trouble concentrating on the task at hand. You may also suffer from stress, anxiety, fatigue and have trouble sleeping due to the constant noise or you may sleep only to be woken up by these phantom noises in your ears. You may also become irritable which is understood with lack of sleep or simply the constant noise in your ears.
1. Avoid loud noises and wear ear protectants when you expose yourself to loud noises from music, at the airport, from power tools, blenders, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, etc.
2. Learn to manage chronic stress through breathing exercises, massage, relaxation therapies, exercise and many other ways that can help you reduce the amount of stress that you may be under.
3. Get on a smoking cessation program to eliminate a smoking habit.
4. Limit or reduce alcohol consumption which affects your blood flow including that in your inner ear. Consider eliminating caffeine as well as it may have a similar effect on your blood flow.
When to See a Doctor
Really any time that tinnitus others you, you need to see a doctor. Also schedule a doctor's appointment when you notice that the condition develops after suffering from an upper respiratory infection that may include a cold and the condition does not alleviate after a week or two.
Also see a doctor if you experience dizziness or hearing loss with this condition. If the condition also comes upon you suddenly with no obvious reasons, see your doctor.