What Is Tinnitus and What Can Be Done For It?
If you suffer from tinnitus, your first question probably is, "Can anything be done about this ringing in the ears?" The answer is YES! A great deal can be done to help. But first you need to understand what it is.
Tinnitus is a phantom auditory perception. That is, a sound heard inside your ears or head when that sound does not exist outside you. Tinnitus is often generated in the brain, but perceived as being heard in the ears. People often refer to tinnitus as a ringing sound in the ears; however it can take many forms, including ringing, chirping, hissing, sizzling, whining noises, or like the sound of rushing air or the humming of power lines. It may be high pitched or low, soft or harsh, faint or loud.
The intensity or loudness of sound(sound pressure) is measured in decibels, abbreviated as dB. Normal conversation typically measures between 40 and 50 dB. A home vacuum cleaner or alarm clock measures between 65 and 85 dB, a coffee grinder 70-80 dB, a blender 80-90 dB, and a garbage disposal around 85-95 dB. A tractor, a truck without a muffler, or shouted conversation measure about 90 dB. Many tinnitus sufferers estimate the noise inside their heads at between 20 and 40 dB, however it more often approaches 8 to 10 dB when measured with an audiometer. A few people, however, experience tinnitus at 75 to 80 or even 90 dB. This intensity may spontaneously vary from time to time, and in different environments. The majority of adults with normal hearing experience occasional tinnitus, described as high pitched ringing in their ears.
Tinnitus affects 20% of all people, and one out of three over the age of 60. Hyperacusis is a related condition where sound is perceived as louder that it actually is. When individuals with normal hearing are placed in a soundproof chamber, 95% develop temporary tinnitus. More than 80% of all patients with tinnitus also have a condition called hyperinsulinemia. We require external sound around us at all times. In the absence of external sound, the human auditory mechanism and brain create internal noise while searching for external sound. I personally lived with both hyperacusis (sensitivity to loud sounds) and tinnitus for several years. I sincerely hope that my personal experiences about both conditions will benefit others greatly. I no longer suffer, and you needn't either.
Certain forms of tinnitus can be explained physiologically, such as when one of the tiny middle ear muscles spasms, vibrating the bones of hearing in the middle ear. Or when throat muscles contract that open the Eustachian tube, or when your Temporo-Mandibular Joint (jaw joint) creates a pull or vibration on your eardrum. An abnormal junction of the skull base with cervical vertebrae has been reported to cause tinnitus. Pulsations of a blood vessel will occasionally be heard inside the head or ears. The most common and most bothersome form of tinnitus, however, is known as SIT: Subjective(only audible to the individual,) Idiopathic(of unknown cause) Tinnitus.
About curing tinnitus, you may ask, "Can I get rid of this noise once and for all?" In the best of situations, it will go away completely. In others, you can reduce the intensity of the sound and train your brain to largely ignore it. To know which situation applies, you first need to determine what's causing your ringing ears. Where do you start? Certainly not by visiting a hearing aid dealer or your family physician, because neither is equipped to provide an adequate examination for tinnitus. Research the subject online. Read articles by knowledgeable authors. Do your homework first. And then visit a qualified Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat specialist.) Some causes can be treated and relieved directly. For example, something as simple as ear wax (cerumen) touching the ear drum can cause tinnitus.
Some medicines can make your ears ring, so simply discontinuing the offending medication will generally make the noise go away. In addition to obtaining a hearing test, called an audiogram, your ENT doctor will likely perform more detailed tests of your auditory/vestibular nerves-called the eighth cranial nerves. These tests concern balance as well as hearing, since the two are closely related. You doctor will probably order a CT scan or MRI of your head to visualize your inner ear and surrounding brain areas, especially if you have tinnitus in only one ear. This study is to be certain you do not have a rare and removable growth on the acoustic nerve. An acoustic neuroma is a non-malignant tumor growing along the eighth cranial nerve. These tumors often cause tinnitus, hearing loss, and/or vertigo, and can be surgically removed.
Meniere's disease also causes tinnitus, hearing loss, and vertigo, and is treated with medications and dietary changes. In the vast majority of cases, after the examination and tests provide the very important information about what you do not have, you will be told that your tinnitus is idiopathic (unknown cause) or that it's the result of some past exposure to loud noise that damaged your hearing nerve(s) or inner ear(s.) The inner ear includes the cochlea, a snail-shell shaped organ lined with sensitive "hair cells" that receive sound vibrations and transmit impulses along your acoustic nerve to your brain. Your ears receive and transmit sound, but you actually hear that sound in your brain.
Examination by a qualified specialist described above must never be bypassed. After completing all tests, however, be prepared to hear that nothing can be done for your tinnitus. THIS IS NOT CORRECT. You may be told, "You'll just have to learn to live with it.". Many ENT specialists are sadly uninformed about the highly effective treatment options available today for tinnitus. They may be excellent, well-trained physicians and surgeons, able to correct complex hearing-related conditions, but training often glosses over conditions that cannot be readily corrected with surgery or medications. Your ENT doctor may have been taught that there was no effective surgery or medication for tinnitus, so patients just have to accept it. WRONG!
Anxiety Relief Techniques® is highly effective to relieve the suffering from tinnitus.
May 14, 2013
The following article from Quiet Times was written by my friend and fellow tinnitus expert, Barry Keate. Thank you, Barry. I will reserve comment until near the end of this post. “Dental Issues and Tinnitus By Barry Keate There appears to be a correlation between certain dental procedures and tinnitus. Dental work has the ability to mitigate some
January 18, 2012
Although there are a many health conditions that can cause or worsen tinnitus, many times there is no known cause. Often finding a cure can be equally frustrating. Luckily, there are techniques that can bring some relief to people who suffer with this condition. Use the methods outlined in this article to find an approach
January 10, 2012
It’s well known that certain medications can cause tinnitus. In most instances, the tinnitus goes away when the offending medication is stopped and clears the system. Occasionally, a medication can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. In such instances, the symptom of tinnitus as well as any accompanying hearing loss
October 5, 2011
Millions of adults worldwide experience tinnitus. Of these, approximately 25% suffer greatly from it. Why? Or just as importantly, how do 75% of the people with tinnitus not suffer from it? How can one person seem to simply ignore the noise inside his or her head, while another finds it nearly impossible to carry on
August 30, 2011
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) relieves suffering from tinnitus in approximately 85% of trainees, but it requires 12 to 18 months to become effective. Developed in the 1980s by Dr. Pawel Jastreboff at the University of Maryland, this therapy works through a process called habituation. TRT consists of two closely integrated and equally essential parts:A) The use
August 4, 2011
It is very distressing to experience a sudden onset of ringing in the ears. This condition is known as tinnitus. The noise of tinnitus may include ringing, screeching, buzzing, chirping, a hissing sound like steam escaping, or similar to the humming sound from high tension power lines. While the sounds of tinnitus appear to be in
August 4, 2011
This article focuses on the relationship of noise exposure and the development of tinnitus–ringing in the ears. The hearing mechanism is very delicate in all animals. Also called the auditory or audio-vestibular system, this system is generally thought to be composed of three parts. In actuality, there are four. 1. The External ear consists of the auricle,
July 17, 2011
For individuals with a decreased tolerance for sound, the auditory system actually becomes more sensitive to external sounds—that is, it “strains” to hear sound until it perceives any sound as louder than it seems to others. When this situation recurs often or becomes chronic, it’s called hyperacusis. Our perception of the loudness of sound depends
July 17, 2011
Does it annoy you to hear someone chew their food, slurp a soda through a straw, or chomp noisily on ice once the soda is finished? UP to 40% of adults who suffer anxiety from tinnitus also had a prior condition called misophonia. Misophonia–which means a dislike of specific sounds–is also called Selective Sound Sensitivity
June 27, 2011
In an earlier post–Fullness in the Ears, Tinnitus, and Hearing Loss–I discussed Endolymphatic Hydrops (EH) and substance sensitivities. I pointed out that sensitivity to wheat often results in increased fluid and pressure within the enclosed inner-ear structures. This increased pressure can produce symptoms of tinnitus, nerve-type hearing loss, and vertigo. Sensitivity to substances other than
June 24, 2011
Many conditions cause a feeling of fullness in your ears. I’ve addressed several that are temporary and easily remedied in an earlier post, “Stuffiness And Ringing in My Ears.” Today’s post deals with an often baffling condition called endolymphatic hydrops(EH.) It is sometimes referred to as Meniere’s disease, though this title is misleading. Meniere’s disease represents
June 24, 2011
Some Individuals with tinnitus have occasional feelings of fullness in one or both ears. This feeling may be accompanied by a fluctuating hearing loss. That is, along with the feeling of fullness, the hearing suddenly gets very bad, and when the fullness goes away, the hearing improves. This often occurs in only one ear at
June 17, 2011
If you experience ringing in the ears, you may very well ask, “Can I get rid of this noise once and for all?” In the best of situations, the noise of tinnitus will go away completely. In others, you can reduce the intensity of the sound AND train your brain to largely ignore it. To know
June 14, 2011
How we pronounce a word is certainly not the most important issue in the world. If we’re going to discuss this terrible scourge, however, we should at least mention where the name originated and how we pronounce it. The Latin root word for tinnitus is tinnire–meaning “to ring.” Even The Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary
May 31, 2011
If you suffer from intractable noise in your ears, my primary message to you is this: YOUR ANXIETY AND SUFFERING FROM TINNITUS CAN BE RELIEVED! Many tinnitus sufferers have been told by their doctors: “Sorry, you’ll just have to live with the noise,” or, “There’s nothing we can do for the ringing in your ears,” or “It’s