Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

The word tinnitus derives from a Latin word meaning ‘ringing or tinkling like a bell’. Tinnitus is experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head and affects people differently, so the description of the sound may vary from person to person. Most people describe the sounds as ringing, buzzing, crickets or humming.

In many cases tinnitus is associated with some degree of hearing loss. Just about anything that causes harm or damage to the cochlea and the hearing nerve may result in the production of false signals which are interpreted by the brain as sounds.

Other causes may be stress related, dental or jaw problems or medication side effects.

How common is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is very common. Most people would have experienced some form of ringing in their ears at some stage. You may have noticed some ringing in the ears after being exposed to loud noise like at a night club or after using power tools. There is a part of the population who has ringing in their ears 24-7 without a break.

People with tinnitus may experience:

There are several possible causes of tinnitus. The following are among the most common causes of tinnitus.

  • Distress
  • Depression
  • Mood swings and anxiety attacks
  • Tension irritability or frustration
  • Sleeping problems
  • Poor concentration

Causes of tinnitus

There are several possible causes of tinnitus. The following are among the most common causes of tinnitus.

  • Exposure to too loud sounds
  • Degeneration of the hair cells (wear & tear) responsible for transmitting sound to the brain
  • Physical injury such as a blow or strike to the head or changes in barometric pressure during diving or air travel
  • Some prescription and non-prescription drugs
  • Stress
  • Jaw or dental problems
  • Ear disease or infection

What Can I Do?

Treatment for tinnitus can vary from person to person and can greatly depend upon what has caused the tinnitus. It’s always best to consult your doctor and have a hearing test first.

Don’t ever think that there is nothing that can be done to help relieve the tinnitus. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are many techniques that one can incorporate into their lives to lessen the effects. Contact All Ears in Hearing for further information on the various tinnitus treatments available.

Hearing Aids

Many people who wear hearing aids report that their tinnitus improves. Hearing aids take the stress out of listening and also provide a small amount of amplification of background noise to mask out the tinnitus.

Try to avoid loud sounds.

When exposed to loud sounds, you should always wear hearing protection. Loud noise can aggravate existing tinnitus and further unprotected exposure to noise may increase the tinnitus and cause further damage to your hearing. Limit your noise exposure by wearing hearing protection and spending less time in the noisy area.

Avoid Silence

Soft background noise can help to mask out the tinnitus. Open a window, or have the radio or TV on at a volume that just masks out the tinnitus. Mediation CDs with soothing sounds such as the ocean or rain may also be beneficial.

Stress

Many people report that in times of stress, their tinnitus seems to get worse. Try relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, aroma therapy or massage. Try not to become agitated by your tinnitus, as this can make the tinnitus worse.

Fatigue

It is very common for people to report that their tinnitus is aggravated when they feel tired. Again, try different relaxation techniques but best of all, try to get a good nights sleep.

Caffeine

Caffeine can intensify tinnitus, so reduce your intake by limiting coffee, chocolate and caffeine based drinks.

Diet

Have a healthy balanced diet and try to reduce salt intake and caffeine. Carbohydrate rich meals such as pasta can have a calming effect.

Alcohol and other Drugs

Some people have found that their tinnitus is magnified by alcohol and other drugs. Reduce your intake of alcohol and check with your doctor about the side effects of any medication you may be taking.

Quit Smoking

Smoking narrows the blood vessels which supply oxygen to your ears.

Exercise

Daily exercise improves circulation, is good for your overall health and can help reduce the effects of stress.

Herbs

A combination of four herbs has helped some people in the relief of tinnitus. The four herbs are;

  • Gingko Biloba
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Garlic