Tinnitus is the term used for noises or sounds which are heard in one or both ears or in the head which do not come from an external source. They are often described as a high-pitched ringing but can also be described as a buzzing, hissing, pulsing, whistling, roaring, or various other sounds. Tinnitus can be very mild in loudness and only noticeable in a quiet room or it can become extremely loud and annoying to the point where the sufferer hears nothing else. It can be present all of the time or occur intermittently.
Causes of Tinnitus
The exact mechanism underlying tinnitus, what it is and where it is, is unknown at this time but research continues around the world. Some of the causes of tinnitus are:
- Disorders in the outer ear such as excessive ear wax (cerumen), a foreign body, perforated eardrum, or a hair touching the eardrum. Often, removal of the problem (wax, hair, etc.) will relieve the tinnitus.
- Disorders in the middle ear such as an ear infection, otosclerosis, or a benign tumor.
- Disorders in the inner ear such as damage due to noise exposure, presbycusis (hearing loss from aging), Meniere’s Disesase which is also accompanied by episodic dizziness, nausea, ear pressure, and fluctuating hearing loss. Noise exposure is the leading cause of tinnitus and is very preventable with the use of hearing protection.
- Trauma to the head or neck, such as concussion or whiplash, can cause long-lasting tinnitus.
- Certain medications can cause head noises. They include anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and quinine, some sedatives and antidepressants, and certain antibiotics and chemotherapeutic agents including furosemide, cisplatinum, streptomycin, neomycin, and kanamycin.
- One of the most difficult causes of tinnitus to diagnose is a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) which is a small tumor pressing on the vestibular nerve leading from the cochlea to the brain. Tinnitus may be the only initial symptom.
- Various other causes such as high or low blood pressure, diabetes, vascular disorders, temporomandibular (jaw-joint) disorders, allergies, syphilis and thyroid dysfunction.
There is no single medication that works on all tinnitus patients. Certain anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications have proven successful for a small percentage of tinnitus patients. Some patients have seen success using herbal medications such as ginkgo biloba.
Some tinnitus patients have reported benefit from treatments such as hypnosis, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, ear candling, and naturopathy.
Smiles from Ear to Hear are qualified to speak with you and diagnose whether you are suffering from tinnitus and discuss possible solutions that may prove helpful.
(Source – Canadian Academy of Audiology)