Tinnitus is characterized by ringing in the ears. While it is perceived as a disease, it is considered a symptom. The source of sound that a person who experiences Tinnitus hears is from inside the head.
Aside from ringing, the person with Tinnitus will also hear a whistle, buzz or hiss. The symptoms of Tinnitus may come and go, but can also be constant.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
The following ear problems have Tinnitus as a symptom:
- Meniere’s Disease
- Age-related Hearing Loss
- Earwax Buildup
- Damage in the Middle Ear
- Damage in the Inner Ear Due to Loud Noise
Tinnitus is also deemed as a medication’s side effects. If you’re taking a moderate or high dosage of aspirin, Tinnitus will be its side effect. Aside from the physical symptoms, Tinnitus also have these following symptoms:
- Trouble concentrating
Additional symptoms may include:
- Vertigo or Dizziness
- Hearing Loss
Types of Tinnitus
Objective Tinnitus: One of the causes of objective tinnitus is a problem in your blood vessel. It might also be because of a condition in your middle ear bone or muscle contractions. When you consult your doctor, he or she can also hear the ringing during the examination.
Subjective Tinnitus: This is a type of tinnitus which only you can hear. It is considered a common type of Tinnitus which is due to ear problems in your middle, inner or outer ear. Another cause of Tinnitus may also be problems with your auditory nerves or part of your brain which is responsible for interpreting nerve signals.
When is it necessary to see a doctor?
You will need to see your doctor if your tinnitus already causes discomfort. You will need to make an appointment if tinnitus has developed after you have experienced upper respiratory infection like a cold.
If you don’t see any improvement in your condition within a week, it is also important to seek immediate help from your doctor. An appointment with your doctor is essential if you have tinnitus that suddenly occurs without any known cause. A doctor should also be sought if your hearing loss is accompanied by Tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
If you have pre-existing health conditions, it can either cause Tinnitus or worsen the symptom. In most cases, the exact cause is still unknown.
However, Tinnitus is commonly caused by the damage in the inner ear cell. Your inner ear contains tiny, delicate hair, which moves due to the pressure of sound waves.
This results in ear cells releasing an electrical signal from your auditory nerve to your brain.
During the transmission, the brain interprets the signal it receives as sound. If your inner ear is damaged or malformed due to a disease, it will have the tendency to leak electrical impulses randomly, which eventually results in developing tinnitus.
Tinnitus may also be caused by chronic health conditions, injuries and ear problems.
Conditions That Can Cause Tinnitus
- Too much exposure to loud noise: If you are always exposed in an environment where there is frequent use of heavy equipment such as chainsaws, firearms or other noisy devices, you can be a strong candidate for hearing loss. Even listening with your portable music devices like iPods or MP3 players can have a negative effect on your ears if you play songs loudly for long periods.
- Tinnitus does not necessarily cause permanent damage. There are cases when short-term exposure to noise like attending a rock concert cause Tinnitus to eventually go away. However, if you have been exposed to loud sound over a long period of time, the damage can be permanent.
- Age-related hearing loss: As you get older, your ability to hear might also worsen. The deterioration usually starts at the age of 60 and may be accompanied by Tinnitus.
- Changes in ear bone: You may also develop hearing loss due to the stiffening of your middle ear bones. This is due to abnormal bone growth and the condition is a result of a genetic factor. When a person experiences hearing loss due to ear bone changes, Tinnitus may be one of the symptoms of hearing loss.
- Accumulation of earwax: The purpose of earwax is to protect your ear canal by means of trapping the dirt and minimizing the growth of bacteria. However, when the earwax starts to build up, dirt becomes too difficult to wash away naturally. Earwax blockage can cause eardrum irritation or hearing loss. Tinnitus might be one of its symptoms.
- Neck injuries or head injuries: Another reason your hearing nerves can be affected is when you have neck or head injuries. While it is the brain that is often affected due to the neck or head trauma, the part of your brain which is responsible for hearing might also be affected. These injuries can also result in having Tinnitus in one ear.
Tinnitus Risk Factors
Although anyone can experience Tinnitus, there are factors that can increase your risk:
- Gender: Men are more at risk of experiencing tinnitus than women.
- Smoking: If you smoke, you are also increasing the risk of developing Tinnitus.
- Loud noise exposure: When you are regularly exposed to loud noise, sensitive parts of your middle and inner ears are prone to damage. Specifically, the tiny sensory hair cells which transmit the sound to your brain. If you are a construction worker, soldier, musician or someone who is exposed to noisy environments, you are at risk of developing hearing loss and Tinnitus.
- Age: Another factor that increases your risk of hearing decline is aging. More often than not, the hearing loss is also associated with Tinnitus.
- Cardiovascular issues: If you have conditions that impact your blood flow like narrowed arteries or high blood pressure, you are also at risk of experiencing Tinnitus.
When you follow some preventive measures, you will be able to minimize the risk of experiencing Tinnitus:
- Avoid long-term exposure to loud sound: It is inevitable to be exposed to amplified music, but you can prevent developing hearing loss and Tinnitus by wearing ear protection or turning down the volume.
- Use or wear hearing protection device: With prolonged exposure to loud noise, your nerves can become susceptible to damage over time. Such exposure will lead to hearing loss and Tinnitus. If you work in an industry where you use firearms or loud machinery, consider wearing hearing protection.
- Eat right and exercise regularly: You can start treating tinnitus naturally by taking care of your cardiovascular health. By embarking on a healthy diet plan and being physically active, you can have healthy blood vessels, which can prevent the occurence of Tinnitus associated with blood vessel disorders.
You need to see your doctor to find out more about the condition. Your doctor will perform tests to know if there are any underlying conditions associated with Tinnitus. There several steps to take to correct the problem:
- Change your medication: If your medication is the cause of your Tinnitus, you will be recommended to reduce or stop the drug. You may be advised to switch to a different medication.
- Remove earwax: Another way to decrease the symptoms of tinnitus is by removing the impacted earwax.
- Blood vessel condition treatment: There are vascular conditions that may require you to undergo surgery, take medications or seek another form of treatment to properly address the problem. Treating tinnitus with acupuncture may also work in some cases.
You may also consider treatment of tinnitus in homeopathy. Once you are diagnosed with Tinnitus, working with a hearing expert or an audiologist is the first step to take to prevent worsening the symptoms of Tinnitus.