Tinnitus

Causes of, and treatments for, tinnitusAfter being around loud noises like fireworks, live music, or gunfire, you might experience ringing in your ears. Ears can begin to ring in reaction to extremely loud and sudden sounds. For a short time after the noise, you might hear a tone that is not really there. In some cases, this buzzing or ringing does not go away. It may persist or stop for brief periods and return. This condition is known as tinnitus.  It can be extremely irritating and distressing. 

 


Who is susceptible to tinnitus?

People of any age or gender can experience this condition, especially after being exposed to loud noise. Studies have shown, however, that the condition is most common among older men. One American study reported that nearly 12% of men between the ages of 65 and 74 experience tinnitus. 

 

What causes tinnitus?

Many ear specialists believe that tinnitus occurs as a result of a problem occurring within the cochlea. Something causes the cochlea to send abnormal signals to the brain. As a result, the brain inputs a substitute noise to compensate for the strange signals. This leads to the persistent or intermittent ringing experienced by people with tinnitus. The condition can be worsened by anything that affects our hearing, including ear infections or excess wax.

There are many different ways that the inner ear can be disturbed, resulting in tinnitus. Examples of causes include:

  • Exposure to Loud Sounds:  Sounds which require ear protection.
  • Meniere’s Disease:  Symptoms of this disease include dizziness, nausea, intermittent hearing loss, and tinnitus.
  • Pregnancy:  Some pregnant women experience an overactive thyroid, which can cause tinnitus.
  • Benign Intracranial Hypertension:  Increased pressure along the jaw joint can lead to a clicking form of tinnitus.
  • Stress and Fatigue:  Any time the body feels stressed, tinnitus may be worsened.
  • Medications: Adverse reactions to antibiotics, aspirin, or other medications can lead to tinnitus.
  • Tumours:  A tumour known as an acoustic neuroma may cause tinnitus by growing on the nerve that supplies hearing signals to the brain. This cause is extremely rare and the ringing is typically only noticed within one ear.

 

How to treat tinnitus

While there is not yet a direct cure for tinnitus, it is possible to treat its underlying causes. Because this condition can be caused by so many different factors, the treatment options vary significantly from person to person.

  • Hearing Aids:  Some people have been fortunate enough to have hearing aids completely eliminate their tinnitus symptoms. If hearing loss is causing the problem, a hearing device may provide a solution.
  • Therapeutic Noise Generators:  These devices are often recommended for people with tinnitus who have not experienced hearing loss. They look like hearing aids, but are used to produce a blend of sounds that stimulate the hearing nerve, deviating attention away from the tinnitus.
  • Surgical Treatment:  If your tinnitus is caused by otosclerosis, middle ear effusion, or other ear problems that can be addressed using surgery, these procedures may also alleviate the ringing in your ears.
  • Herbal Remedies:  Depending upon the cause of your tinnitus, there are some specialists who believe vitamin B12 and herbal remedies can reduce the symptoms. We recommend that you work with a qualified specialist before trying these methods.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:  Clinical psychologists help their patients adapt to tinnitus. CBT exercises teach people how to change the way they perceive the condition, focus their attention away from the problem and control their stress levels.
  • Meniere’s Disease Treatment:  The diagnosis and treatment of Meniere’s disease can reduce or eliminate tinnitus.
  • Jaw Alignment:  If your condition is related to pressure building within the jaw joint and muscles, a dentist or orthodontic surgeon may be able to provide relief.
     

Ask for help now

Ringing in the ears may not seem like a big deal initially, but if this problem persists, it can significantly affect your quality of life. If you think you would like to discuss your problem, call our clinic on 5443 6633 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday to arrange an appointment.  The cost of a tinnitus related appoitnment is $90.  We have clinics located throughout the Sunshine Coast at Maroochydore, Buddina, Caloundra, Cooroy, Noosa Heads and Nambour.  We also have a clinic at Gympie.