Tinnitus is not a disease but is a symptom of a disease where a ringing sound in the ear can be heard. It is essential to be aware of the exact tinnitus symptoms, to administer appropriate treatment, in order to cure tinnitus.
Tinnitus, from the Latin word ‘Tinnituae’ meaning ringing, known as ‘Ringing in the Ear’ in layman’s language is basically a disorder and is characterized by a sensation of noise in the human ear, in the nonexistence of any external sound. Present either in one ear or both the ears, a person with tinnitus, may perceive abnormal sounds like roaring, chirping, hissing and ringing, etc.
Causes of Tinnitus
Hearing ringing or whirring sounds in either or both the ears, even in the absence of external sounds can be quite annoying. At times, the sounds can be so evident that it can obstruct hearing.
- One of the most common reasons for experiencing ringing in the ears, is hearing loss, associated with age or caused due to a trauma to the ear.
- Ringing in the ear can also be caused due to ear infections, where the cochlea of the ear can tend to get damaged.
- Exposure to loud noise (more than the normal hearing capacity of a person) can cause tinnitus.
- Excess earwax can also lead to ringing in the ear.
- Overdose and side effects of certain ototoxic medications like amino glycosides, bleomycin, aspirin, tetracycline, furosemide, cisplatin etc.
- Head injuries, neurological disorders, multiple sclerosis and any injury or infection to the sinus can cause tinnitus.
- Certain medications like quinine or cancer treatment drugs can cause tinnitus or ringing in the ear for some patients.
- A few studies have shown that metabolic disorders like thyroid problems or deficiency of vitamin B12 can end up in tinnitus.
- Psychological problems like depression, over anxiety and stress can result in tinnitus.
- A person having high blood pressure is also said to experience ringing in the ear.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
A person with tinnitus or ringing in the ear may experience the following signs and symptoms. Observing these indications and reporting them to a doctor will prevent this condition from becoming intense.
- A persistent ringing in the ear in the absence of any external sounds.
- This sound may be similar to rushing or clicking sound that goes along with the heartbeat.
- This ringing in the ear may be accompanied by dizziness or hearing loss in Meniere’s disease.
- The person may also experience mild to severe headache.
Treatment for Tinnitus
As tinnitus can occur in a person in any phase of his life, it is necessary to take precautionary measures. The medical treatment for tinnitus is mentioned below;
Ear Drops: Tinnitus caused due to ear infections can be cured with the help of ear drops containing hydrocortisone. This will help in relieving the ringing sound and itching in the ear.
Use of Tinnitus Mask: Tinnitus mask is a kind of hearing aid that produces a sound more tolerable than the ringing sound that one hears. It acts as a distraction and cures ear ringing.
Use of Ear Plugs: Ear plugs can be used by people who are suffering from this disorder. This helps in reducing excessive and unwanted noise.
Application of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): With the help of cognitive behavioral therapy, the doctor examines a patient’s unwanted beliefs, behavior, thoughts and attitudes and gives medications for the same.
Use of Medicines: Antibiotics are helpful if tinnitus is caused by an ear infection. A doctor may prescribe antidepressants like amitriptyline if ringing problem is caused due to anxiety or depression.
Surgery: If a person is suffering from chronic tinnitus problem or tinnitus caused by a benign tumor, then it is advisable to undergo surgery for permanent relief from ear ringing.
Other Treatment Options: Apart from the above treatments, a person suffering from tinnitus can opt for treatment methods like electrical stimulation, biofeedback, habituation and counseling therapies. There are also other remedies for ringing in the ears sensation.
Ringing in the ear or tinnitus may be a symptom of certain underlying medical conditions. So if you experience any tinnitus symptoms, visit your ENT specialist as soon as possible.