Help for Those Suffering from Tinnitus

For anyone not suffering from tinnitus, it can be extremely difficult to understand what those who are afflicted by this phenomenon are actually subjected to. In its mildest form it may consist simply of intermittent bouts of a relatively short duration and at a volume that is sufficiently tolerable to be ignored by the subject. When severe, however, it can be debilitating to the point that it interferes with the victim’s ability to concentrate on work or conversation and can even prevent him or her from gaining some refuge from the discomfort in sleep.

Despite its sometimes, extremely distressing effects, this annoying affliction is actually only a symptom of some underlying disorder rather than a disease process in its own right. In the majority of cases, the root cause is easily identified and readily treated although, in rare cases, it may also be a manifestation of some more serious illness.

Some research conducted recently suggests that as many as 20% of those aged between 55 and 65 experience these symptoms, but the figure is the finding of an age-specific survey and, in fact, the phenomenon occurs quite frequently in subjects of all ages. Although it is most commonly referred to as a ringing sensation that originates within the ear rather than externally, the nature of the sounds actually experienced can differ widely between subjects.

Among the auditory sensations reported by patients examined by a doctor or audiologist because they believe they could be suffering from tinnitus, these noises have been described variously as clicking, buzzing, hissing, whining, humming and beeping to name just a few. Some patients have even described hearing music or voices. Often the intensity of the sound will vary in response to movements of the tongue, jaw, neck or shoulders. One thing that these patients will tend to have in common, however, is that almost all of them are also likely to be experiencing some degree of hearing loss. For this reason, among others, it is always advisable to investigate further the origins of this troublesome symptom.

It can be divided into two types. In the so-called objective form, anyone examining the patient will experience the same sound, indicating that it results from some mechanical source. Often this will result from muscle spasms or turbulence in the blood vessels serving the ear and, only in rare cases is there any serious underlying pathology.

When the condition is subjective, the sounds are discernible by the patient alone and may be due to a variety of possible causes. These include the side-effects of numerous medications including aspirin and certain antibiotics, acoustic shock following exposure to loud noise and infections of the middle and external ear. Following successful treatment of the identified cause, the sounds will normally subside.

As mentioned earlier, the symptom is often associated with, or the result of hearing loss. Where the latter is permanent and possibly progressive, the use of a suitable amplification device should serve to alleviate much, if not all of this annoying distraction.

The Ear Institute operates a number of practices and satellite clinics across the country. They are staffed by qualified healthcare professionals experienced in the investigation and treatment of various types of auditory malfunction. This includes medication and other effective solutions for those suffering from tinnitus. 

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