Tinnitus is an abnormal perception of a sound, which is reported by patients as being unrelated to an external source of stimulation. Tinnitus is a symptom, much like a headache, pain, temperature, hearing loss, or vertigo. With tinnitus, the reported distress is usually subjective and difficult to record and appreciate by others. Tinnitus will not cause you to go deaf, and statistically, 50 percent of patients may express that their tinnitus decreases or is hardly perceptible as time passes.
The quality of the tinnitus refers to the description by the patient of the tinnitus. It may be a ringing, buzzing, cricket, ocean, or other type of sound. Also, the quality may be multiple sounds or a singular sound. Tinnitus is a very common disorder, and may be:
- Intermittent, constant, or fluctuating
- Mild or severe
- Varied in nature, from a low roaring sensation to a high-pitched type of sound
- Associated with a hearing loss
Causes of Tinnitus
Often the cause of tinnitus cannot be determined. Here is a list of possible triggers which may result in tinnitus:
- Medications - There are some drugs which may exacerbate tinnitus, such as excessive aspirin intake. If you have tinnitus and are on medication, you should discuss the symptom of tinnitus with your physician. In many instances, once the drug is discontinued, the tinnitus will no longer be present.
- Ear wax - Cerumen, known as simple ear wax, in the ear canal.
- Otosclerosis - This is a fixation of the stapes bone in the middle ear.
- Meniere’s disease - A complex syndrome involving hearing loss and vertigo.
- Sudden trauma - A direct blow to the ear or head.
- Injury - This causes damage to the inner ear such as exposure to excessively loud sounds.
- Tumors - On the hearing nerve or other problems in the brainstem or central nervous system.
- Other vascular abnormalities – These can occur in the skull or base of the skull.
Treatment of Tinnitus
There is no cure for tinnitus. There are, however, options available to provide some relief of tinnitus:
Hearing aids are equipped with features to minimize the annoyance of tinnitus.