Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside your body, rather than from an outside source. It's often described as 'ringing in the ears', although several other sounds can also be heard, including buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing, and whistling. Tinnitus fills our ears with sounds no one else hears. It’s a common problem affecting more than 50 million people in the United States. Tinnitus can be severe, affecting people’s daily lives. It isn’t a disease. It’s a symptom of several medical conditions.
Is it serious?
Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious underlying condition. For some people, it may come and go and only be a minor irritation.
However, for some people, it can have a significant impact on everyday life and be very distressing, affect concentration, and cause problems such as difficulty sleeping (insomnia) and depression.
What causes Tinnitus?
- Aging: Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) affects 1 in 3 adults over age 65.
- Exposure to loud noises or explosions: This can happen over time or from a single incident. Exposure to very loud music or working in a very noisy environment can cause hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Ototoxic medications: There’s a wide range of medications that can damage your ears. If you’re concerned about tinnitus, ask your healthcare provider about medication side effects and alternatives.
- Foreign objects in lodged in your ear: Sometimes foreign objects like pens or pencils used to clean ears end up rupturing eardrums.
- Excessive earwax (cerumen): Earwax can block your ears and affect your hearing.
- Allergies: Congestion from allergies can affect your Eustachian tube. This tube connects your middle ear and the back of your nose. Congestion that blocks the eustachian tube can keep sound from getting to your ear.
- Sound therapy – Listening to neutral sounds to distract you from the sound of tinnitus
- Counseling – Therapy that aims to educate you about tinnitus and help you learn to cope with it more effectively
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – Therapy that aims to help change the way you think about your tinnitus so it becomes less noticeable
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) – Therapy that aims to help retrain the way your brain responds to tinnitus so you start to tune the sound out and become less aware of it
Tinnitus can be a frustrating condition. There’s no simple explanation for it and there’s no simple cure, unless there’s an underlying treatable cause. But there are ways to reduce the intensity of the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Please consult a doctor before starting any fitness regime or medical advice.
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