Tinnitus is a disorder which is characterized by a constant perception of a ringing noise in the ears. This is not the condition in itself, rather it signals some other underlying condition such as an ear injury or age related hearing loss. It is not a serious condition, although the symptoms can worsen with age. If you are affected by this disorder, you might experience or ‘hear’ a constant ringing sensation in the ears, even if there are no external sources of noise. These sounds could range from being a buzzing, ringing, to a hissing sound. This condition has mighty chances of interfering with your daily routine.
It is classified into two types:
- Objective tinnitus: This disorder is caused by muscle contractions or a blood vessel problem.
- Subjective tinnitus: The more commonly occurring type, it is caused by damage to the auditory nerves or regions of the brain that interpret sound.
The causes of this disorder are:
- Exposure to loud noise: If you are exposed to loud noises such as the ones emanating from firearms or heavy machinery over a prolonged period, it can lead to tinnitus.
- Aging: Aging can cause progressive loss of hearing, thus triggering tinnitus.
- Blockage of the ear: There is earwax present in the ears, the function of which is to trap dirt and bacteria. Excessive earwax accumulation leads to loss of hearing, resulting in tinnitus.
- Modifications of the ear bone: Any stiffening of the middle bone in the ear could impair your hearing and result in this condition.
Certain factors such as smoking, age, sex (men are prone to this disorder) and heart related disorders increase the risks of being affected by this condition.
The treatment of this condition begins with the identification of the underlying condition, if any. The various treatment options are –
- Removal of earwax: Excess earwax has gotten rid of which can relieve symptoms of tinnitus.
- Suppression of noise: Certain machines, known as white noise machines, produce random sounds such as the sound of rain or the sounds of waves, thus eliminating the ‘hearing’ of sounds which are common to this condition.
- Medications: Certain medications such as alprazolam and nortriptyline can help reduce the severity of the symptoms. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ent-specialist.