Want to Know More About Tinnitus?
We hear the term “Tinnitus” thrown around quite often but very few of us actually know what this is. Tinnitus can be described as a loud buzzing or ringing in one or both ears. It can sometimes take different forms, and at times manifests as any type of high pitched sound, often described as hissing or whistling. While in most cases the sound is continuous, this is not always the case, and experiencing these sounds for a period of time could also be a sign of Tinnitus. The volume of the sound can also vary – in some cases it is very loud to the point where it excludes most other sounds, and in milder cases it could be a background noise. Either way, Tinnitus can interfere with your ability to hear in varying degrees, and communication may become more difficult. The ringing can also cause sleeplessness and stress, and it is vital that anybody who experiences these symptoms consult with a specialist who is qualified to deal with the problem, such as an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT).
What Causes Tinnitus?
There are various things that can result in the onset of this affectation. Exposure to a loud noise, continuous periods of stress or even infections are common causes. Tinnitus can be the result of medications taken to treat cancer or other illnesses, as well as trauma. It can also be inherited from a parent or grandparent. Any one or a combination of the above factors may result in the damage of the fine hair cells that line the inner ear. Once these cells have been damaged they release glutamate, which is a substance that stimulates activity in the part of the brain that affects hearing. This then leads to the experience of hearing the sound typically associated with tinnitus.
Diagnosis of Tinnitus
It is essential that it is diagnosed correctly, and a range of thorough examinations have to take place. It is common for a variety of audiological examinations to take place, and tinnitus assessments and other aspects such as the medical history can also be explored. It goes without saying that only qualified specialists should be performing these examinations and making a diagnosis.
Treatment of Tinnitus
It is possible for tinnitus to be treated successfully, and various options are available, depending on the cause, including medication, noise suppression, counselling and the application of hearing aids. Medication in itself cannot cure tinnitus, but can help to reduce the effects by lowering the level of noise experienced. In certain cases it could be helpful to suppress the noise with the use of electronic devices, and hearing aids are used with a great degree of success, especially in cases where loss of hearing is also evident. Other devices worn in the ear can also be used to mask the noise by producing a constant low level sound that has a suppressive effect on the tinnitus noise.
If you experience any signs of tinnitus or hearing loss, we can help! Contact our health professionals at The Ear Institute for a thorough examination and we will be able to provide you with the diagnosis, treatment and information you need to manage tinnitus effectively!