Tinnitus and Treatments Available
What is Tinnitus? Although tinnitus is not a specific illness or disease it is a condition that affects up to 10% of the population and can be very distressing and upsetting for the sufferer. It is normally described as a symptom of another problem, not often serious, and is commonly defined by sufferers as ringing, buzzing, humming or whistling within the ear, or in some cases inside the head, with an exact location not known.
Sufferers may experience only one of these sounds or a combination of many; tinnitus occurs rarely in one solitary ear, more commonly in both, either at the same time or intermittently.It can affect any person of any age, though is more often seen in older people and can be short-lived or continue for a long period of time or even permanently.
Causes Of TinnitusThere are a number of possible causes of tinnitus though in some instances the cause is unknown.Exposure to loud noise, such as a pop concert or after an explosion can cause temporary tinnitus and this often resolves itself after a short period of time.
It is commonly experienced during or after a head cold as a result of congestion, and normal sound perception will recover when all traces of the cold are gone.
Many sports people experience tinnitus, especially boxers and wrestlers as it can be caused after a blow to the head; again this is not often serious unless often more dangerous injuries have occurred.
As tinnitus is often a symptom of another condition, examination and discussion with your GP, possibly with a referral to an ear specialist, may be required to either determine or rule out one of the following: damage to the delicate nerves of the inner ear, excessive ear wax, otosclerosis, Meniérè’s disease, damage to the eardrum, as a side-effect of other medications or as a result of natural hearing loss.In very rare cases, the cause of tinnitus is due to a tumour, explaining why a visit to the GP is necessary.
Treatments For TinnitusAs there is no known cure for tinnitus, it is fortunate that most sufferers experience temporary sound perception interferences, or will have another condition diagnosed and treated alleviating the tinnitus related to that problem. For those who experience tinnitus long-term however, it can become very distressing and can interrupt everyday life so much so that depression can result.
When tinnitus has become detrimental to a person’s health, the GP may recommend the use of sedatives or anti-depressants, which can be taken for a short time whilst other coping mechanisms are sought and investigated. Cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling or concentration techniques may be needed in order for the sufferer to learn how to cope and manage their symptoms more effectively.
Changes to existing medication may be necessary, as these may be the cause of the tinnitus; your GP may be able to recommend an alternative therapy.As stress and anxiety are known to exacerbate the severity of the tinnitus experienced, relaxation therapies and techniques may be useful in helping the body and mind relax. Yoga, exercise and massage are very good for this.
Tinnitus affects many people, for several different reasons, some unknown. If it continues over a long period of time or worsens in severity it can become very upsetting for the sufferer. It is always advisable to make an appointment with your GP to rule out other conditions, which may be causing the tinnitus, which can then be treated, thus alleviating the tinnitus.