What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be diagnosed as hearing noise when there is no external noise present. It commonly affects 1 out of every 10 adults aged 60 and above. It is generally a symptom to an underlying ear complication, most likely a damaged cochlea.
The noise manifests as buzzing, whistling, roaring, clicking, hissing, or other noises that vary in pitch and frequency from one person to another. Continuous tinnitus can be very bothersome and cause stress for the patient.
Tinnitus is divided into two categories
Subjective Tinnitus: This is the most common form of tinnitus in which only the patient can hear the noises.
It has several causes including:
- An affected inner, middle, or outer ear
- The auditory nerves or pathways
Objective Tinnitus: Objective tinnitus can be heard by the patient and their medical doctor during check up. This form of tinnitus is not as common as subjective tinnitus.
This can be caused by:
- A problem with a blood vessel
- Muscle contraction
Some Common Causes of Tinnitus are
- Aging accompanied by damage to the inner ear
- Continuous exposure to noise
- Injuries to the head or neck
- Infections inside the ear
- Change to the ear bone structure
- Blockage of the ear by excess earwax
Effects of Tinnitus
Those suffering from tinnitus can experience symptoms of:
- Lack of concentration
Treatment of Tinnitus
Tinnitus currently has no cure, however, there are some new treatments available to help control tinnitus and drastically improve a patient’s life.
Some tinnitus management tips include:
- Avoiding medications like aspirin or ibuprofen that are known to damage the inner ear.
- Address conditions linked to tinnitus such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
- Coping with the noise if the tinnitus is caused by age.
When is it time to see the doctor?
- If tinnitus is causing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- If tinnitus is noticeable after an infection, particularly ENT related.
- If the noise causes hearing loss.
Some of the causes of tinnitus can easily be prevented, like smoking or exposure to loud noise. It is better to address risk factors early before they cause permanent damage.