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This entry was posted on 19th September 2012 by Gary.
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a very common condition, especially when there is some degree of hearing loss present. In many cases, the hissing or buzzing sounds that occur are not audible for the other people, cannot be controlled, can come and go with different intensity and appear in one or both ears. Living with tinnitus is challenging and scientists are actively looking for ways to alleviate the condition and find a cure.
To manage tinnitus, it is very important to know what it is and what the possible causes may be as well as what underlying health problems it may be an indicate. In most situations, ringing in the ears is not a sign of a serious medical issue but still people should consider addressing the problem and consult with a health professional to make sure they have the correct diagnosis.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is described as a constant or intermittent noise in one or both ears and can be heard as a hissing, crackling, buzzing, ringing, etc. It is usually associated with hearing loss but can occur after a prolonged or abrupt exposure to loud noises as well. In some cases, after a while, it fades away but in other situations it is permanent and the sufferer needs to find a way to cope with it as it can interfere with the perception of the rest of the surrounding sounds.
Tinnitus can be subjective or objective. The subjective tinnitus is heard only by the individual and is usually caused by damage in the outer, middle or inner ear or problems with the auditory nerves responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. Impairment of the hearing nerve may lead to mistakes in the brain interpretation of sounds and thus cause tinnitus. Objective tinnitus can be heard by an audiologist during an exam and is most commonly attributed to blood vessel problems or inner muscle contractions.
What causes tinnitus?
To find the best treatment or management of the condition, you should turn to a specialist to determine the type of tinnitus and the possible causes for it. There are various underlying medical conditions that could lead to ringing in the ears and treating them may eventually cease it. Common reasons for tinnitus include:
• Age related hearing loss
• Earwax compaction
• Continuous or abrupt loud noises
• Head or neck injuries
• Acoustic neuroma
• High blood pressure
• Problems with the temper mandibular joint
• Arteriovenous malformations
• Some medications (e.g, antibiotics such as gentamicin, chloramphenicol, bleomycin, cancer or quinine drugs, diuretics, high dosage of aspirin, etc.)
One way to treat tinnitus is to find its cause and if it is another medical condition, to seek treatments for the underlying condition. Depending on the exact condition, noise suppression and use of hearing aids can also help as well as changing current medications. However, in some cases, the origin of the ringing remains unknown or cannot be cured and people need to live with it. There are several solutions, however, that some people implement to ease the discomfort and lessen the influence of these unpleasant sounds in everyday life:
• focusing on the external sounds and not the sounds in the ears
• avoiding situations that aggravate the condition such as noisy places, smoking and drinking alcohol
• minimizing stress
• trying alternative methods such as gingko biloba intake, acupuncture or even hypnosis
Research continues in this field in order to find refined and sure ways of curing tinnitus. One option scientists are currently investigating is retraining (or rebooting) the brain in such a way that it stops recognizing errant signals from the damaged hearing nerves. Another area of research is focused on developing drugs that will “tone down” overreactive neurons. It is believed that studying the mechanism of interaction between the hearing cells and the potassium channels will lead to new insights as how to treat the condition.
This entry was posted in Hearing Information on 19th September 2012 by Gary.
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