For someone suffering from Tinnitus, a perpetual sense of ringing in the ears is the main complaint. It’s annoying, to say the least. But more importantly, it is a sign of hearing loss. This is why people need to see an audiologist if he/she has a sense of tinnitus for some time. An audiologist can treat this problem in different ways.
The first step in treating tinnitus like any other disease involves determining the cause. The doctor may perform different tests such as-Hearing:
During this test, one needs to sit in a soundproof room and wear earphones. Specific sounds will be played into the ears, one at a time, through these earphones. People have to indicate when they hear different intensities of sound. The results are compared with empirical results for comparable age. This helps the audiologist identify possible or rule out specific causes.
One may need to clench the jaw, move the eyes or neck, or even move the arms and legs as part of the test. If tinnitus symptoms get better or worse at any of these postures, the audiologist can identify the underlying disorder.
The doctor may suggest an MRI or CT depending on his suspicions.
Treatment involves identifying an underlying problem, if any. If the tinnitus symptoms are due to some health conditions, the audiologist may take the following steps:
Clearing the Earwax
Impacted earwax can cause a variety of problems, including tinnitus symptoms. An audiologist can remove the ear wax.
Treating Vascular Conditions
Underlying vascular problems that require surgery or any other treatment may treat the condition.
Tinnitus can also be a side effect of medication. If the doctor suspects that he may recommend reducing or stopping the drug completely. He may also recommend a different medication.
If there is no underlying health condition or medication responsible for tinnitus, the doctor may take recourse to noise suppression. The patient may need to wear an electronic noise suppression device. These devices include:
White Noise Devices
These machines produce simulated sounds such as those of ocean waves, falling rain etc. This is often found to be effective in treating tinnitus. He may also recommend using pillow speakers, fans, dehumidifiers, air conditioners and humidifiers to suppress internal noise at night.
If a hearing problem is associated with tinnitus, the audiologist may prescribe hearing aid.
Such devices mask the internal sounds of tinnitus and are worn in the ear in a similar fashion as hearing aids.
This device delivers programmed music to mask the sound of tinnitus. This technique usually helps the patient get accustomed to the sound of tinnitus.
Depending on diagnosis and findings, audiologists may also recommend medicines. Audiologists use medicines usually for severe tinnitus only, since these may have side effects. It may also help reduce symptoms.
When you travel in an airplane or just come out of the swimming pool, your ears may sometimes block up and even be painful. This is what is known ear barotrauma and is caused by pressure differences inside and outside the ear drum. Severe cases may cause damage to the ear and impede your hearing.
Symptoms of ear barotrauma
Ear barotrauma usually occurs when the Eustachian tube is blocked due to differences in air pressure. The Eustachian tube is a long narrow tube that runs from the middle of your ear to the pharynx or the back of the throat and is thus very important in relevance to the ear, nose and throat. Thus ear barotrauma can also translate to pain in the ear and throat as well.
Some of the symptoms are:
1. Discomfort in the ear, or aggravated pain in extreme cases
3. The ears being blocked or full, in severe cases may feel like being underwater
4. Temporary hearing loss
5. Nose bleeding in severe cases
6. Health care providers may see an inward caving or outward bulging in the ear drum. In severe cases, the ear drum may look bruised as well.
7. Some severe cases may even exhibit signs typical of an ear infection along with some of the other symptoms mentioned above.
Precautions and self treatment
There are certain steps you can take to either prevent barotrauma or reduce the symptoms. These are:
Yawning or gulping - This is very helpful when air pressure differences are caused in cases of travelling by aircraft.
1. Inhale slowly and then exhale while your mouth is closed and you are holding your nostrils closed by fingers - This will help increase the pressure within the tube to try and open it forcefully.
2. Sucking on candy - This is another way to prevent barotraumas as you are constantly swallowing and keeping your Eustachian tube from being blocked in the first place.
3. Keep a few Chewing gums handy - Chewing gums also has similar effects on your ears as it forces the Eustachian tube to remain open despite pressure differences.
4. After diving or swimming, come out of the water slowly - Scuba divers and deep swimmers need to come up slowly to ensure that the Eustachian tube is given enough time to acclimatize and slowly come back to normal.
Usually, ear barotrauma goes away automatically after sometime and no medications are required. However, if symptoms still persist, it is best to go to a relevant doctor or a health care provider for pain relief and long term solutions.
There is a strong connection between the ears, nose and throat, as any ENT or Ear Nose Throat specialist will be able to tell you. When there is any kind of congestion or obstruction in the nasal passages, one can also feel some effect in the ears with the symptoms going from mild to severe.
- The Connection: To begin with, let us understand the connection between the ears and the nose. There is an opening that can be found in the back of the nose, which leads into a tunnel called the Eustachian Tube. This tube goes into the ears and creates some amount of pressure when the nasal passages get blocked. This pressure can be felt as clogging of the ears and can usually be eradicated with the help of a pop in the ears. This pop can be brought about by pinching your nose and trying to breathe, or even yawning hard or indulging in some gulping or swallowing motion as well.
- Mucosal Swelling: The swelling within the patient's nose usually points at the build up of mucus which can make the nasal lining thicker, thus making the act of breathing that much more laboured and difficult. This obstructs the nasal tract, in plain and simple terms. This swelling usually spreads to the tunnel or the Eustachian Tube, which can become swollen and even shut, consequently leading to a feeling of having clogged ears.
- Negative Nasal Pressure: When the pressure inside the nose is built up in a negative way due to the obstruction that makes the patient breathe even harder, then the ears end up taking the pressure. This makes them clogged. This negative pressure usually manifests in the back of the nose where the Eustachian Tube is located, which creates a build up in the ears as well. This can also lead to a ringing pain when a patient tries to suck in air too hard due to the obstruction.
- Bernoulli's Principle: If we are to incorporate air in place of fluid and liken the action of breathing with an obstructed nose, with the action of sucking fluid in through an obstructed straw, then the fluid dynamics would apply to this case. As per these fluid dynamics, more rapid flow of fluid can lead to decreased pressure on the surrounding areas. This can be applied to the blocked nose where air must pass through faster and with more fluidity so as to ensure that there is less pressure on the ears, which will keep them from getting clogged.