Often referred to as "ringing in the ears," tinnitus is a medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears when no external sound can be detected by others. It is a symptom not a disease. It may be intermittent or constant in character, mild or severe in intensity.
Some people who suffer from tinnitus hear:
- Accumulation of earwax
- Exposure to loud sounds
- Head or neck injuries
- Problems with blood circulation
- Jaw misalignment
- Ear or sinus infections
- Certain types of tumors
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain medication
- If the examination by the ENT specialist reveals a treatable cause, treatment may be instituted.
- If no cause can be found the following will be helpful:
- Make every effort to avoid anxiety as this stimulates the already tense auditory system.
- Avoid all forms of loud sound. If you cannot avoid being exposed, use ear protectors such as ear plugs or earmuffs.
- Obtain adequate rest and avoid over fatigue.
- Avoid excessive coffee or smoking.
- Have the head elevated as less blood flow towards the head may reduce the noise.
- Sedatives and antidepressants may be used occasionally.
- Hearing Aids: In an individual with hearing impairment, the most effective treatment of tinnitus is the use of properly fitted hearing aids. The sound heard through the aid not only improves the ability to perceive speech, but also makes the ringing noise less noticeable.
- Biofeedback Training: Biofeedback training is effective in reducing the intensity of tinnitus in some patients. In biofeedback exercises the patients learn to relax. When a patient is able to accomplish this type of relaxation, tinnitus often subsides.
- Tinnitus Masking: For individuals who have normal hearing but are severely distracted by their tinnitus, a tinnitus masker may be effective. The tinnitus masker is a small electronic instrument built into a behind-the-ear hearing aid case. It generates a noise which prevents the wearer from hearing his own head noise.
- Sound Conditioning: Most patients find that tinnitus is always worse at night or in a quiet environment and find relief by simply using a fan or playing soft music. Noise such as ticking clock, radio or other noise which masks the head noise will be beneficial.
- Avoid all forms of loud sound. If you cannot avoid being exposed, use ear protectors such as ear plugs or earmuffs. If you are exposed to certain sounds which increase your head noise, make it a point not to repeat that experience.
- Make every effort to avoid nervous anxiety, for this only stimulates an already tense auditory system.
- Make every attempt to obtain adequate rest and avoid over fatigue.
- The use of nerve stimulants is to be avoided. Therefore, excessive amounts of coffee (caffeine) and smoking (nicotine) should be avoided.
- Learn as quickly as possible to accept the existence of the head noise as an annoying reality and then promptly and completely ignore it as much as possible.
- Tinnitus will not cause you to go deaf, will not result in you losing your mind or cause your death, so immediately forget such distracting and terrifying thoughts.
- Tinnitus is usually more marked after one goes to bed and his surroundings become quiet. Any noise in the room, such as a loud ticking clock or a radio, will serve to mask the irritating head noises and make them much less noticeable.
- If one sleeps in an elevated position with one or two pillows, it results in less congestion to the head and thus the tinnitus may be less noticeable.
- Sedatives of various types may be used occasionally for temporary relief.