Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing sensation in the ears. Tinnitus is a relatively common problem, & affects about 15-20 percent of the population. It’s important to note that Tinnitus isn’t a condition in itself, rather a symptom of some underlying illness or age-related hearing loss.
Sometimes, Tinnitus can also occur due to an ear injury or some irregularity with the circulatory system.
Tinnitus involves a constant buzzing, hissing, or ringing sound in the ears, either one or both.
Although it is certainly difficult to experience, Tinnitus isn’t usually serious. Although it worsens with age, most people do get better with Tinnitus Treatment. Treatment for Tinnitus depends on the exact underlying condition that is causing it, whether it is an ear infection, an injury, a viral illness, or age-related disability.
While some Tinnitus treatments help treat the condition fully, some others help mask or reduce the noise experienced to provide patients with a better quality of life.
Tinnitus patients experience ringing or buzzing sensations even when there are no external sounds present. Although every patient might hear different sounds, there are a few universal sounds that are characteristic of Tinnitus. These sounds include:
- Ringing sound in the ears,
- Buzzing in the ears,
- Roaring in the ears,
- Clicking in the ears,
- Hissing in the ears,
- Humming in the ears,
These noises & sounds might vary from one patient to another, but they are present continuously & take on the forms of roaring sounds to high frequency squealing. These sounds may be experienced in either one or both of the ears, & may range from slow to high pitched sounds in the ears.
In certain cases, this constant buzzing or ringing in the ears can lead to the patient losing focus on the external sounds that might be in the environment that time, which in some cases can lead to fatal accidents. Tinnitus may be present at all times, or may come & go at various intervals.
Tinnitus can be of two different types:
- Subjective Tinnitus: Subjective Tinnitus, as the name suggests, is subjective to the patient experiencing it. This is by far the most commonly observed type of Tinnitus. It is usually caused by problems in the inner ear, middle ear, or the outer ear. It can also be caused by issues with the hearing nerves, also called auditory nerve, or the part of the brain designated to interpret various nerve signals as sound, also called auditory pathways.
- Objective Tinnitus: It is the type of Tinnitus which the doctor examining your condition can also hear. It is relatively rare, & is usually caused by blood vessel problems, an issue with the middle ear bone, or some muscle contractions.
Various health issues & complications can give rise to, or worsen, the symptoms of Tinnitus.
It is possible that in some cases, Tinnitus doesn’t have an exact cause. One of the most common Tinnitus causes is inner hair cell damage. These are tiny hair cells in the inner ear that move in response to sound waves, thus triggering signals from the auditory nerve to the brain. If these hair cells are broken or damaged in any way, they can release unsolicited, random electrical impulses to the auditory nerve, thus causing the brain to perceive sounds that don’t actually exist.
Other common causes of Tinnitus include a variety of inner ear problems, chronic health problems, & any other injuries or infections of the inner ear or the auditory part of the brain.
Other causes of Tinnitus include:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Exposure to any loud noise
- Ear blockage due to wax
- Changes in the ear bone structure
- Meniere’s Disease
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Injuries to the head or neck
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Dysfunction of the Eustachian Tube
- Inner ear muscle spasms
Besides these common Tinnitus causes, there are some blood vessel disorders that can also lead to tinnitus. These include:
- Tumors on the head & neck
- Chronically High Blood pressure
- Irregular, turbulent blood flow
- Deformities in the formation of capillaries
Aside from these, Tinnitus can also be caused by certain medications. These medications include:
- Cancer medications
- Diuretics, or pills that help reduce water retention
- Quinine medications
- Some antidepressants that may cause the symptoms of Tinnitus to worsen
- Aspirin, when taken in uncommonly high doses
In certain cases, consumption of nicotine & caffeine can also lead to Tinnitus.
The treatment of Tinnitus focuses on treating the exact underlying cause of the Tinnitus, if it is known.
If the cause is unknown or the underlying condition is untreatable, Tinnitus treatment focuses on reducing the noise experienced & providing the patient with a better quality of life.
In some cases, Tinnitus, especially if it arises out of Meniere’s Disease, leads to Vertigo symptoms, dizziness, nausea, & motion sickness.
In such cases, Tinnitus treatment also involves Vertigo treatment, that includes Vertigo medicines, Vertigo tablets, & certain exercises for Vertigo treatment.
Other tinnitus treatments targeting the underlying causes of Tinnitus include:
- Removing the accumulated ear wax clogging the inner ear nerves,
- Treatment of a blood vessel condition
- Switching up any medications that might be causing Tinnitus
Treatment for Tinnitus that reduce noise
Certain treatments for Tinnitus that help reduce the noise experienced by patients include:
- White Noise machines, that help cover the ringing or buzzing sensations experienced by patients by generating white environmental noises like ocean waves, rain falling, etc. Turning on the air conditioner or dehumidifiers can also provide some relief from Tinnitus sounds.
- Hearing aids, that help patients hear external sounds drowned out by their Tinnitus noises
- Noise masking devices that continuously produce white noises that keep the sounds of Tinnitus at bay.
- Counseling, or Tinnitus retraining, a specific Tinnitus treatment wherein the patient is provided with noise training to get used to the Tinnitus sounds produced by the condition.
Tinnitus home remedies & exercises
Tinnitus has a reputation in the medical community for being a notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Most people with Tinnitus get better on their own, or simply get used to the symptoms with time & learn to adapt to the ringing or buzzing noises.
Certain home remedies & tips might help patients with Tinnitus. These include:
- Avoiding loud noises, caffeine, nicotine, or any other irritants that make Tinnitus symptoms worse,
- Covering up the Tinnitus noise with fans, ACs, or a soft, humming sound.
- Managing stress, as stress can sometimes worsen the symptoms of Tinnitus & may also lead to dizziness & Vertigo symptoms,
- Keeping a check on your alcohol consumption, as alcohol & nicotine, as well as caffeine, are known to worsen the symptoms of Tinnitus. This happens as alcohol leads to dilating of your blood vessels, causing greater velocity & pressure of blood flow
Besides these home remedies, you can also try certain Tinnitus exercises like Yoga, stretching, & other exercises that help control your blood pressure & help relax you.
Besides these Tinnitus home remedies & exercises, you can also include certain medications & alternative treatment therapies in your Tinnitus treatment.
These medications & alternative therapies include:
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Zinc supplements
- Vitamin B
Besides these, a certain noninvasive therapy called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation(TMS), is a painless Tinnitus treatment. It is used to provide relief to patients that suffer from severe Tinnitus & show no response to any other treatment for Tinnitus.
Know more about Vertigo, its symptoms, diagnosis, & treatment, here.