Tinnitus can be commonly described as “ringing in the ears” as it refers to a sensation of sound in or both the ears, or in the head when no external sound is present. Other descriptions of the sensation include a roaring, whistling, chirping or hissing. The perceived loudness of tinnitus varies from person to person, ranging from subtle to very intense.
Tinnitus affects males and females equally, as well as those with normal hearing.
It is unknown what the exact physiological causes are. However, research has identified a number of sources associated with tinnitus. The most common contributor has been cited as exposure to loud noise, which may only lead to temporary effects of tinnitus. Long-term exposure to noise most often leads to permanent sensation of tinnitus. In fact, over 90% of tinnitus sufferers also have some level of noise-induced hearing loss. Some of the significant causes of tinnitus can be as follows:
- A certain amount of wax build-up in the ear canal leading to sensation or increase the perceived intensity of tinnitus.
- Certain medications that are oto-toxic, which means that they can produce damage to hearing organ itself. For example, Aspirin is a medication that can cause temporary tinnitus, when taken in large doses.
- Ear and sinus infections can also be accompanied by tinnitus. However, it normally disappears once the infection has cleared.
- Jaw misalignment and other facial abnormalities can induce tinnitus as well as any trauma to the head and neck region.
There is no cure for tinnitus, nor is there one approved medication that has been successful in permanently eliminating the presence of tinnitus for those who suffer from the condition. However, there are several factors that can intensify the perceived loudness if tinnitus.
- Exposure to loud noise
- Foods with high salt or sugar content
- Stress and fatigue
If you suffer from tinnitus, try reducing or eliminating one or more of the above mentioned factors to determine whether or not you perceive any change in the level or tone of your tinnitus.
Although there is no “cure” for tinnitus, several techniques have been developed to help individuals cope with the condition. Additionally, there are two major non-medical treatments currently available for tinnitus sufferers: Masking and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. These treatments are designed to provide immediate relief from the effects of tinnitus and can be combined with a hearing aid for those who also have hearing loss. The therapy also aims to give you the skills to successfully manage your tinnitus permanently. Also, a notable factor can be use of hearing aids. Tinnitus becomes much less noticeable for hearing aid wearers.
It is always advisable to visit a professional and reputed hearing clinic to gain more information and check for any signs of hearing loss.