What Is Tinnitus? Causes And Treatments

Though many may suffer with the symptoms, there are also many who do not know the medical term or wonder just what is tinnitus? In simple terms, this refers to the noise that can be heard inside the ear or head of the affected person. The sound is described as ringing, wheezing, buzzing, and other mostly high-pitched, shrill and repetitive notes. For some, the noise is heard periodically; for others, it is heard constantly without pause or cessation.

While there is no actual loss of hearing in tinnitus, the repetitive and constant sounds distracts the person from clearly perceiving or interpreting the sounds from his/her surroundings. For people with worst cases, tinnitus provides them virtually no quiet moment during all waking hours, and even cause them difficulty in getting a decent good night's sleep.

What is Tinnitus, and What Causes It?

Underlying conditions of tinnitus are difficult to diagnose, more so the exact cause of it. The sound can be a negative side effect of medications, such as aspirin and some antibiotics. Since most cases report that the sound is heard "all in the head," some experts believe it is caused by psychological conditions particularly depression.

On the other hand, in rare cases when the sound is also audible to other people and can be heard using a stethoscope, it can be an indication of serious medical conditions such as growth of tumor in a blood vessel, or aneurysm. It can be caused by ear conditions such muscle contractions in the middle ear, ear canal blockage or ear infections. Anemia, hypertension, hypothyroidism, head trauma and injury are also possible causes of tinnitus.

Experts debate about the exact causes of tinnitus, and the techniques to identify and distinguish each possible answer. But one of the things they seem to agree upon is that knowing the underlying factor for the noise is an important step to treating the symptoms of tinnitus. However, connecting the direct cause with the symptom is almost unachievable. Thus, doctors, without a solution or real cure, usually just remedy the situation by helping the person manage the sound, such as masking unpleasant noises with more pleasant ones.

Effects of Tinnitus

Tinnitus can greatly affect the quality of life of the person suffering from it. Normal activities, even something as simple as walking on the street, can be severely limited and risky due to the difficulty in focusing and cognitive ability brought about by the distracting noises. On a day-to-day basis, tinnitus causes headaches, dizziness, lack of sleep, and plain hopelessness at having to endure such conditions that are seemingly without cure.

Likewise, the social, professional and personal relationships of a person with tinnitus is also limited, since interacting with other people requires clearly understanding and correctly interpreting nuances in verbal and interpersonal communications. Career choices can be extremely narrowed down, as important professional skills, such as ability to focus and to follow instructions, can be hindered by the auditory distractions caused by tinnitus. Working in the fields of construction and infrastructure, machinery operations, and occupations with hazardous environments are also often crossed out from workplace possibilities.

Managing Tinnitus

There are procedures, medications and surgery recommended by doctors, but these are often prescribed not to treat, but to simply relieve the symptoms of tinnitus. Usually, the temporary relief comes from drowning out the grating noises with what are presumed to be more pleasant sounds.

Masking the noise caused by tinnitus is commonly done by having the person wear a hearing aid that specifically emits pleasant background music, sounds of water, and other soothing acoustics. Some drugs offer short-term relief or solutions for certain facets of tinnitus, such as decreasing noise volume or relieving dizziness and headaches. For extremely intense noise, surgery is done, although there is no guarantee for success, and only a small number of specialists and medical centers have the proficiency to perform this.

How to Live with Tinnitus

Holistic methods of approaching tinnitus is said to help people manage daily activities, boost their health, and improve their quality of life. Meditation, acupuncture, yoga, biofeedback training and hypnosis can greatly induce relaxation, thereby relieving the stress and tensions brought about by tinnitus, and eventually make the noises subside. The wellness duo of eating well and regular exercise is also highly recommended, not just to ease tinnitus but to potentially fight the medical conditions that cause it. With a clear understanding of exactly what is tinnitus as well as its causes and effects, you can make informed choices when looking for ways to treat tinnitus.

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