One women sufferer, of tinnitus,
first noticed the low hum in her ears,
about three years ago,
right after a bout with the flu.
Although she couldn’t seem to shake it,
she wasn’t going to whine about what
probably was no more than a minor annoyance.
Things could be worse! And pretty soon, they were.
The hum soon became a roar, like there was a motor running in her ear. It was so loud se couldn’t think and had trouble sleeping at night. She also lost her appetite – every time she got on the scale, she weighed five pounds less.
Sapped of energy and unable to muster enough concentration to read, cook, or clean, she went to the first of the five ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists she was to see over the following two years of frustration and pain. There she found a name for her affliction – tinnitus. What she didn’t find was immediate relief.
The problem with tinnitus is that it isn’t a disease. it’s a symptom that can be caused by any number of physical problems. In fact, anything that can go wrong with the sense of hearing can have tinnitus as a symptom. The fact that the list of possible suspects is so long makes it difficult for doctors to pinpoint the actual culprit.
Managing the problem ends up being the goal in most instances of severe tinnitus, because while the sound source may be identified, the chances of completely correcting tinnitus are slim. A video can help explain the concept in a more lucid manner.
Millions experience the internal cacophony of hums, roars, backbeats, buzzes or clicks that characterize tinnitus. But, for most of them, the sounds are barely noticeable, lasting anywhere from a matter of minutes to a couple of days. A small percentage of these cases, however, are like our woman sufferer’s.
The steamy hiss, the oceanic roar, the answering machine beep of their tinnitus drowns out most external sounds, disrupts their lives and sends them on a often lengthy, frustrating search for treatment. If you are walking through a busy airport, for example, and you can still hear your tinnitus despite all the racket, it’s probably interfering with your life – and that’s when you should see a doctor.
Tinnitus causes first to Consider
That’s because, in rare cases , your ears could be signaling the presence of a tumor. Or it can be a serious problem with your auto-immune system, Meniere’s disease or a partially blocked artery in your neck. Those are the first problems an ENT doctor (Otolaryngologist) will look for. He will also be able to tell if you have an infection, excess fluid in your middle ear, or another ear problem related to tinnitus.
These are clear cut cases, and standard methods, such as surgery and drugs, can be used to treat them. in these situations there is a chance that the noise can be silenced for good.
but when there is no obvious physical reason for your ears to roar, ring where do you go from there? After your doctor finds that there’s nothing wrong, everybody looks at you like you are crazy. But even though no one else can hear it, the problem is real and its devastating.
Next possible Tinnitus causes
The next step is to find out if you have one or more of the other medical conditions that may cause or aggravate tinnitus. A possible culprit is the irritation and congestion caused by allergies. With proper treatment of the allergies, you may be able to at least control your level of tinnitus or eliminate it entirely.
Blood circulation problems may also be related to your tinnitus. People who have increased blood flow to the ear due to high blood pressure may hear a sound like a heartbeat. Addressing that problem with conventional treatments, such as a low-salt diet and anti-hypertensive medications, may give you some relief.
If you experience a pulsing tinnitus, see a cardiologist to determine the source of the pulsing. (Be aware, though, that some blood-pressure medications may aggravate or cause tinnitus. Alert your regular doctor to your tinnitus should he prescribe anti-hypertensive drugs). If you suspect that a medication is causing tinnitus, see your doctor.
On the flip side, if you have high blood cholesterol levels or heart disease, you may not be getting enough blood to your ear. The resulting irritation to your inner ear could be a source of tinnitus. In rare cases, people with tinnitus also have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) or bruxism (teeth grinding disorder) – two conditions that can aggravate an already bad problem.
In those instances, prescription muscle relaxer may help. But it’s more likely that severe tinnitus is the product of direct damage to the hair cell in the ear – damage that can’t be repaired. In some cases this kind of damage is the immediate result of sudden exposure to loud noises – like the hunting enthusiast who fires his shotgun one too many times or the stationary cyclist who cranks up her personal radio a little too loud during a long ride.
In other cases, the damage accumulates slowly over the years from a daily barrage of external noises – in fact, some estimates say most tinnitus sufferers are between the ages of 55 and 74. Some antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs can cause or aggravate tinnitus include anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Noise and certain drugs can damage the cells in the ear that transform sounds into the nerve impulses that travel to the brain.
Learning to live with Tinnitus
Even though this kind of damage is irreparable, there’s no need to give up. An ENT physician will put you through a lengthy interview and a battery of tests to get a better handle on the scope of it. In addition to looking for hearing loss and equilibrium problems, he will also check for nerve damage by analyzing the way electrical sound impulses are travelling to the brain.
Another test allows him to identify your tinnitus. With the help of a specially trained audiologist and a sound generator, a series of tones, buzzes, hisses and roars and played until they hit upon a sound that you recognize as your own. Then the loudness is also adjusted until the audiologist hears it at the same volume as you do.
The experts use all this information to determine the best approach to your problem, base don the experiences of other patients with similar profiles. It often happens that the best way of managing tinnitus is to attack it on a number of fronts. here are some weapons you can use to control tinnitus.
It’s most important to protect your ears from loud noises, because they can make your tinnitus even worse. Many experts blame blaring car and personal stereos, but sounds from chain-saws and other equipment can also damage hearing.
Most personal and car stereos have volume control dials that go from 1 to 10. If you suffer from tinnitus, a good all round rule is to keep your stereo set at 4 or below. If you don’t have tinnitus and want to make sure you never get it, the same rule goes.
Avoid Ear Damaging Substances
Of course, a specialist should take you off any drugs that are known to be ototoxic – poisonous to the ear -like the antibiotic, streptomycin. But even aspirin and aspirin containing remedies, while they don’t cause permanent damage to the ear, can also induce temporary tinnitus and aggravate a permanent case when taken in moderate and, more commonly, high doses.
So if you need a pain killer, try paracetamol, or ask your doctor if ibuprofen is appropriate to take. Also, stay away from quinine and nicotine. Although experts don’t know why, they make the ringing worse. Alcohol and caffeine can also affect tinnitus, depending on the person. Tell your doctor how much of these you consume to see whether they are a problem.
Hearing Aids for Managing Tinnitus
About 95 percent of patients with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid can’t get rid of the ringing, but the tinnitus may become less obvious if you can hear better. And even if you don’t have a noticeable hearing loss, a hearing aid my help.
Often, tinnitus sufferers have high frequency hearing damage. While high-frequency hearing sound waves are not crucial for speech perception, we normally hear them. When a person has hearing loss, the brain is not receiving this information. SO a specialist may attempt to make those sound waves available to the brain by using a hearing aid, even though the patient has normal hearing in the lower frequencies.
Maskers and Tinnitus devices
Masking – substituting another sound for the sound of the tinnitus – is another coping method. Sufferers have tried radios, TV, headphones music.
Emotional – relief Techniques
Tinnitus sufferers are often told they need to “learn to live with it” but are seldom told how. And the frustration of dealing with a symptom that is, after all, all in your head, often compounds the problem. It’s rare that treating stress or depression alone totally gets rid of tinnitus, but it’s part of the whole approach.
The trick is finding the way of dealing with the stress or depression that’s most effective for you. Yoga techniques for relieving stress, and yoga for healing depression can help in this direction. It can also be something as simple as moderate exercise. keeping the ears healthy with yoga also can make a positive difference to the problem of tinnitus.
Take this test on how much you know your ears.
Tinnitus – Looking for Cure
Right now, there’s no quick fix for tinnitus. But it may not be too long until doctors can prescribe a drug to silence the sounds altogether. One of the most promising, yet preliminary, studies suggest that terfenadine – the common allergy drug commercially available as hiterf, terdane, Terfed, Terin, Trexyl in India – may partially or completely relieve tinnitus, even in people with no known allergies.
Ronald G. Amedee, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery to Tulane Medical Center, gave 24 tinnitus patients a 60-milligram tablet twice a day for three 30-day periods. They were randomly assigned to receive terfenadine during two of the 30-day blocks and a copycat placebo for the remaining period,
Seventeen of the 24 showed some improvements in their tinnitus. And one of the 17 – the only one with allergies who found relief with terfenadine – saw it disappear altogether.
Dr. Amedee says it’s not unusual to see tinnitus patients who have allergies respond to terfenadine treatment. But this study may give hope to the non-allergic tinnitus sufferer.