Tinnitus: What Could be Causing the ‘Ringing’ in Your Ears & How is it Treated?
Sometimes you hear some ghostly ringing sound when practically the surrounding is silent. Well it could be a clear indication of tinnitus. Although the noise is commonly termed as ringing but it could be buzzing or roaring even clicking sound that often disturbs individuals. Sometimes the sound turns like pulse beats or heart bears. This sound could be in one ear or in both the ears. You may hear the sound continuously or it may come and go. Hence, it is important to know that the ringing you hear may be tinnitus. Know about tinnitus and seek medical advice, as appropriate.
The 'Ringing' In Your Ears May Be Tinnitus
Firstly, the ringing that you hear in your ears or tinnitus is neither an ailment nor a psychiatric condition. The noise generates in head and can be heard anytime anywhere. It is concluded that this condition has no scientific cure. With the ringing you may experience buzzing, ringing or whistling sound in the ear. The duration of the sound depends on the cause and varies from person to person.
Tinnitus is quite common and many people also experience it without any noticeable cause. In a quiet room, this ringing sound appears more powerful. Sometimes you may experience pulsatile tinnitus, its intermittent sound that occurs in tune with heart. There are various causes of tinnitus or ringing sound.
Causes of Tinnitus or What Could be Causing the 'Ringing' in Your Ears?
Tinnitus or ringing sensation is a result of response of your ear to the surrounding or some abnormality within the ear.
Your inner ear has tiny hair and when they are hurt, you hear the ringing sensation. These tiny hair help in hearing, but any kind of malfunction can send abnormal signals to your brain. This can result in certain changes, which is a one of the common causes of ringing in ears or tinnitus. Normal aging, injury or any illness can affect normal hearing and cause tinnitus in some people.
Another cause of ringing in ears is prolonged exposure to loud noise. It is seen that almost 85-90% people experience pulsatile tinnitus due to overexposure to loud noise. They gradually lose their healthy hearing capacity. Such loud noise exposure can permanently damage the sound sensitive cells and cochlea, a spiral-shaped organ is damaged particularly.
The worst victims of such problems and ringing in the ears are the street-repair workers, pilots, carpenters and rock musicians and landscapers are those whose jobs make them hear such ringing sounds. Those work with guns, chain saws, other loud devices or those who are abruptly exposed to loud noise like bomb bursting or car accident may also experience tinnitus.
Health Conditions that Cause Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears
Here are some common health problems that can be the cause of tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
- When wax builds up in the ear or there is an ear infection, can commonly cause ringing sound in the ear.
- The ringing you hear may also be due to a damaged auditory nerve either due to injury, illness or tumor.
- Few drugs such as aspirin, antibiotics, sedatives, quinine medications, anti-inflammatories, and antidepressants or over the counter drugs too can cause ringing sensation in ear.
- The usual aging process which may cause weakening of the cochlea or any other part of the ear, may stimulate ringing.
- Meniere's disease, which affects the internal part of the ear, is another common cause of ringing sensation or tinnitus.
- Otosclerosis is an ailment, which stiffens the middle ear small bones. This can sometimes cause tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
- Few common medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and circulatory problems, diabetes, allergies and underactive thyroid gland may trigger this condition.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which affect the jaw joint is a very common cause of tinnitus or ringing in the ears. This may be due to degenerative changes, injury to the joint or neck problems. It is sometimes also associated with headache, vertigo and nausea.
- When people are prone to drinking or smoke a lot or consume caffeinated beverages, it can cause tinnitus. Often excessive stress and fatigue causes ringing in the ear or tinnitus.
Diagnosis of Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears
If you are having a medical history, it is important to seek medical advice. Diagnosis can be made with the help of history and clinical symptoms. Hearing tests and imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans may be ordered, if required.
Treatment of Tinnitus or Ways to Get Rid of Ringing in the Ears
Few believe this condition or tinnitus is curable few think there is no cure to this ringing. However, the treatment of tinnitus is mainly based on the symptoms and the underlying causes.
If any specific drug triggers ringing in ears, certainly your doctor would ask you stop that drug intake or replace it with something else. When your ringing is caused due to high blood pressure, it can be treated with medicines. Gradually the tinnitus or the ringing you hear in the ears would be under control.
Tinnitus due to earwax is treated by removing the wax build up along with medicines, if required. This is best done by an expert. For neck or jaw injuries or temporomandibular joint problems, anti-inflammatory medicines may help, along with physical therapy and neck and jaw exercises.
For age related difficulties you may be advised hearing aids. Hearing aids can help manage age-related hearing loss, tinnitus and bring down the ringing sensation. Other devices like sound maskers can be worn in or behind your ear. Wearing them, you can generate intermittent low-level white noise. It can help you block the ringing sensation. You may also keep a white noise machine close to your bed during night. Other psychotherapies too can help to manage the ringing sound in your ear. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing and meditation can help reduce your stress.
However, it is best to seek medical advice and follow the treatment plan that best suits you. Once you know that the ringing you hear may be tinnitus, you can take the right action.