Choosing Clear-Cut Products In types of tinnitus treatment of tinnitus Clarified
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus (TIN-i-tus) is noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself ” it′s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn′t a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.
Tinnitus is a ringing, swishing, or other type of noise that seems to originate in the ear or head. In many cases it is not a serious problem, but rather a nuisance that eventually resolves. Rarely, however, tinnitus can represent a serious health condition.
It is not a single disease, but a symptom of an underlying condition. Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from this disorder. In almost all cases, only the patient can hear the noise.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus can arise in any of the following areas: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, or by abnormalities in the brain. Some tinnitus or head noise is normal. If one goes into a sound proof booth and normal outside noise is diminished, one becomes aware of these normal sounds. We are usually not aware of these normal body sounds, because outside noise masks them. Anything, such as ear wax or a foreign body in the external ear, that blocks these background sounds will cause us to be more aware of our own head sounds. Fluid, infection, or disease of the middle ear bones or ear drum (tympanic membrane) can also cause tinnitus.
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear. Advancing age is generally accompanied by a certain amount of hearing nerve impairment, and consequently chronic tinnitus.
Today, loud noise exposure is a very common cause of tinnitus, and it often damages hearing as well. Unfortunately, many people are unconcerned about the harmful effects of excessively loud noise, firearms, and high intensity music.
Some medications (for example, aspirin) and other diseases of the inner ear (Meniere’s syndrome) can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus can in very rare situations be a symptom of such serious problems as a brain aneurysm or a brain tumor (acoustic tumor).
How is tinnitus evaluated?
A medical history, physical examination, and a series of special tests can help determine precisely where the tinnitus is originating. It is helpful for the doctor to know if the tinnitus is constant, intermittent or pulsating (synchronous with the heart beat, referred to as pulsatile tinnitus), or is it associated with hearing loss or loss of balance (vertigo). All patients with persisting unexplained tinnitus need a hearing test (audiogram). Patterns of hearing loss may lead the doctor to the diagnosis.
Other tests, such as the auditory brain stem response (ABR), a computerized test of the hearing nerves and brain pathways, computer tomography scan (CT scan) or, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) may be needed to rule out a tumor occurring on the hearing or balance nerve. These tumors are rare, but they can cause tinnitus.
What is the treatment of tinnitus?
After a careful evaluation, your doctor may find an identifiable cause and be able to treat or make recommendations to treat the tinnitus. Once you have had a thorough evaluation, an essential part of treatment is your own understanding of the tinnitus (what has caused it, the person’s specific symptoms, and options for treatment).
Many people experience an occasional ringing (or roaring, hissing, buzzing, or tinkling) in their ears. The sound usually lasts only a few minutes. Ringing in the ears that does not get better or go away is called tinnitus. You may hear a sound, such as a ringing or roaring, that does not come from your surroundings (nobody else can hear it). The sound may keep time with your heartbeat, it may keep pace with your breathing, it may be constant, or it may come and go. Tinnitus is most common in people older than age 40. Men have problems with tinnitus more often than women.
See a picture of the ear .
There are two main types of tinnitus.
Pulsatile (like a heartbeat) tinnitus is often caused by sounds created by muscle movements near the ear, changes in the ear canal, or blood flow (vascular) problems in the face or neck. You may hear sounds such as your own pulse or the contractions of your muscles.
Nonpulsatile tinnitus is caused by problems in the nerves involved with hearing. You may hear sounds in one or both ears. Sometimes this type of tinnitus is described as coming from inside the head.
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss that occurs with aging (presbycusis), but it can also be caused by living or working around loud noises (acoustic trauma). Tinnitus can occur with all types of hearing loss and may be a symptom of almost any ear disorder. Other possible causes of tinnitus include:
A buildup of earwax.
Medicines, especially antibiotics or large amounts of aspirin.
Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
Ear infections or eardrum rupture.
Dental or other problems affecting the mouth, such as temporomandibular (TM) problems.
Injuries, such as whiplash or a direct blow to the ear or head.
Injury to the inner ear following surgery or radiation therapy to the head or neck.
A rapid change in environmental pressure (barotrauma).
Severe weight loss from malnutrition or excessive dieting.
Repeated exercise with the neck in a hyperextended position, such as when bicycle riding.
Blood flow (vascular) problems, such as carotid atherosclerosis, AV malformations, and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Nerve problems (neurologic disorders), such as multiple sclerosis or migraine headache.
Most tinnitus that comes and goes does not require medical treatment. You may need to see your doctor if tinnitus occurs with other symptoms, does not get better or go away, or is in only one ear. There may not be a cure for tinnitus, but your doctor can help you learn how to live with the problem and make sure a more serious problem is not causing your symptoms.
In many cases, there is no specific treatment for tinnitus. It may simply go away on its own, or it may be a permanent disability that the patient will have to “live with.” Some otolaryngologists (ear specialists) have recommended niacin to treat tinnitus. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that niacin helps reduce tinnitus, and it may cause problems with skin flushing.
The drug gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone), was studied in high doses, and reduced the annoyance level of the tinnitus in some patients, but did not decrease the volume of the noise, and was not found to be better than placebo.
A 2005 study in Brazil using acamprosate (Campral), a drug used to treat alcoholism, showed a nearly 87% rate of relief of symptoms. Studies of this drug for treatment of tinnitus are currently ongoing in the United States.
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