What Is Tinnitus?

To understand how best to treat the ringing in your ears you first need to know what it actually is and the reasons it may occur.

The ringing is the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound.

The sound can take the form of ringing, hissing, popping or one of many other manifestations and can appear in one or both ears, the sensation experienced may be constant or of varied duration and can vary in intensity from person to person.

There are two main types of tinnitus (ringing in the ear)

1. Objective tinnitus (sometimes known as pulsatile)

2. Subjective tinnitus

The former is caused by a physical stimulus that can often be heard by an examining physician, it may be the result of muscle spasms near the ear or from disorders of the tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ dysfunction syndrome). Pulsatile tinnitus occurs when there is increased blood flow or turbulent flow to the area. The sufferer often whispers a sound that beats in time to the pulse. These symptoms can be the sign of hypertension (high blood pressure). Quite often these sounds can be treated with surgery or medication.

Subjective tinnitus is only experienced by the sufferer and is usually caused by damage to the auditory nerve or the delicate mechanisms of the cochlea. This is the same process that causes hearing loss. The two main causes of subjective tinnitus are age dependent and noise induced hearing problems

Causes of Tinnitus

There are many and varied causes of ringing in ears, here are some of the more common ones:

  • Presbycusis- this is age related hearing loss and it is thought that the sounds are caused by degeneration of the auditory mechanism
  • Loud noise trauma- This condition can be correlated to industrial noise, firing guns with no protection, or most commonly among young people, exposure to loud music from concerts or from earphones.
  • Wax affected against the eardrum
  • Infections of both inner and outer ear
  • Perforation of the eardrum
  • TMJ Dysfunction Syndrome- can be diagnosed by your dentist
  • Hypertension
  • Direct trauma to the ear or whiplash
  • Abrupt changes in air pressure- air travel, mountain walking, diving etc.
  • Menières disease- affecting the inner ear causing listening and balance problems
  • Medication- aspirin, non steroidal anti-imflammatories and antibiotics are the most common medicines that can cause tinnitus

Prevention of Tinnitus

Prevention is always better than cure and following simple guidelines can prevent the onset of what can be to some a tremendously debilitating condition that affects their whole quality of life.

Always protect yourself from loud noises, use protective earwear that should be provided if your work environment is noisy, use earplugs if defenders are not practical.

It may appear uncool but also use plugs at concerts and turn down the volume a lot on your ipod when listening on headphones.

If you are taking continual medication and experience tinnitus then go back to your doctor immediately and any damage will be minimal and reversible.

Its not too difficult and if you follow these few rules then you can help to dramatically reduce the chances of developing permanent damage.

The proven treatments or cures for the tinnitus you may be experiencing are many and varied, treatment of tense muscles of the head and neck, treatment of depression, avoid excess medication etc. The list is long and the success of one method or another to stop hearing ringing in the ears is dependent on the individual person.