Some Simple Facts for Those Who are Affected by Tinnitus

Before considering whether there is a cure for tinnitus or not, it is worthwhile examining some of the facts about this curious phenomenon. The use of the word phenomenon is, in fact, more appropriate than referring to it as a disease or an illness, since it is actually neither of these. In practice, this sensation of ringing in the ears is merely a symptom that may present in a variety of ways and which, quite often, a doctor will be unable to relate to any discernible medical condition. As symptoms go, therefore, it is of very little diagnostic value, although it does quite often accompany hearing loss.

Even though it may be more accurately classified as a symptom, this is of little consolation to those who suffer the effects of tinnitus, most of whom will be prompted to ask repeatedly whether there is likely to be any more progress in developing a cure. Most people will have experienced this sensation at one time or another. It can, for instance, often be precipitated by a loud noise, such as an exploding firework or a gunshot, when it is invariably accompanied by temporary deafness. Both symptoms gradually dissipate and a full return to normal hearing, free of any annoying ringing, within a few hours or perhaps a day is the usual course. Imagine that sensation perhaps magnified considerably, unimpaired by deafness and persisting indefinitely, and you can begin to understand how a chronic sufferer is likely to feel.

While many victims do experience the so-called ringing sensation, others are assailed by alternative sounds. Clicking, buzzing, whining, hissing and even sounds that resemble voices are just some of the bizarre and largely inexplicable sound effects reported by patients afflicted with tinnitus. Is there a cure for it? Unfortunately, in many cases, there is no real remedy per se. For those in which this symptom is marked and persistent, the long-term effects on their lifestyle can be devastating and include severe sleep deprivation, the inability to concentrate, depression, which incidentally is known to intensify the symptom, and in extreme cases, a complete inability to undertake any kind of gainful employment.

The symptom is known to be a side effect of more than 250 medications and can often accompany ear infections. In such cases, ceasing or changing the medication or treating the infection may diminish or halt the sensations. Where it may result from damage to nerves in the ear or is of unknown origin, in the absence of a specific cure for tinnitus, the best that modern medicine can offer is some means by which to help sufferers to manage their discomfort more effectively. The use of white noise generators and devices that play soothing music and natural sounds can help. These may operate in isolation or in conjunction with a suitable hearing aid where this may be required. Their effect is to distract the user and to condition him or her, over time, to ignore the unwanted sounds.

Research also indicates that diet may have a positive effect in alleviating this unpleasant sensation. Certain antioxidant micronutrients are essential for aural health and our Ear Institute centres now offer a product known as Hearing Health, along with various other options, providing relief if not a cure for tinnitus sufferers

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