Tinnitus – Causes and Treatment
What is Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a symptom and not a condition in itself. Tinnitus describes the symptom of being able to hear things which nobody else can, although in a rare number of cases, this isn’t true. Tinnitus is a very common condition with approximately 10% of the population suffering from Tinnitus to one degree or another. It is most commonly found in elderly people although it is becoming much more widespread in the younger population. Also, Tinnitus can be found in one or both ears or sometimes it feels like it is coming from the middle of your head.
The Symptoms of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is most commonly found in elderly people although possibly due to the different lifestyles it is becoming much more common in younger people now. Maybe this is due to the fact that people are living in noisier environments today.
The sounds which are heard vary from patient to patient. Some patients hear a musical tone, although most patients hear something which sounds more like a hissing or whistling or a buzzing or a ringing noise. For a lot of patients, it is more of an inconvenience and doesn’t affect their daily lives although for a number of patients, it is so bad that they need some kind of treatment to relieve the symptoms
The Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is caused by damage to the nerves in the inner ear (cochlea). These nerves transmit electrical impulses to the brain which the brain then interprets as sounds. When these nerves are damaged, the signal becomes distorted. When this distorted signal gets to the brain, the brain interprets it as a noise which is Tinnitus.
In elderly people, it is seen as part of growing older and is called presbyacusis. However, in younger people medical professionals believe it is due to be exposed to loud noises.
There are other causes of Tinnitus as well which include Anemia – where the thin blood rushes around the body so quickly that it can cause a sound. Excessive wax in the ear can also cause tinnitus. Menieres Disease which is a condition affecting balance can also have a side effect of Tinnitus. Some drugs both legal and illegal can cause Tinnitus as the body reacts to them.
The Treatment of Tinnitus
For most patients, there is no cure for Tinnitus. Most treatments simply relieve the symptoms by masking the cause of Tinnitus.
Tinnitus is sometimes strongly related to the patients level of stress. By managing this level of stress via the use of sedatives, tranquilizers or anti-depressants, the symptoms of tinnitus can be relieved.
Some drugs which affect the conduction of electrical impulses in the affected nerves have been found to relieve the symptoms of stress.
There are a number of self help measures which patients can employ either on their own or in tandem with any assistance that a doctor can prescribe. These include listening to soothing music on a personal stereo before the patient goes to sleep. There are white noise generators which can mask the noise inside your head. This means that you can’t hear the noise generated by tinnitus.