Do you hear a sound like a buzzing or ringing in the ears, worse at night, that no one else can hear and that seems to come from your own head?
You probably suffer from tinnitus, a very common health condition that most people in the world experience temporarily at some point in their life, but which can persist in 10-15% of affected people.
In the latter case, a small percentage of people may suffer from extreme tinnitus that can significantly affect their quality of life.
This article is intended to serve as a general informational guide to provide greater clarity regarding this common condition.
However, whatever your particular case is, remember that the first thing you should always do is “consulting a specialist doctor who will guide and help you in the treatment of your condition”.
What is tinnitus and what does it sound like?
The simplest tinnitus definition is the perception of a noise in your head, specifically in one or both ears. However, tinnitus is not related to psychiatric illnesses.
This noise can appear temporarily, but it can also do so constantly, 24 hours a day, causing great discomfort to the person who suffers it.
As previously stated, almost everyone has experienced tinnitus temporarily at some point in their life; for example, a few hours after having been exposed to loud noise, as in the case of having attended a concert or disco.
As a general rule, ringing in the ears disappears after a few hours, but in other circumstances, it can become chronic or permanent.
How does tinnitus sound?
Most people who suffer from this condition describe the tinnitus sound as a buzzing, roaring or hissing sound in one or both ears. The type and intensity of this sound can vary from one person to another, and it can even present some variations among different types of people: it can be a high-pitched, low, more or less intense, fixed or changing sound.
What are the various forms of tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition that can vary greatly from one person to another, both in intensity and form. While some people may perceive it as a high frequency hiss, others perceive it as a rather flat or low hum; however, medicine broadly classifies it into two types:
Also called non-pulsatile tinnitus, it’s usually caused by problems in the nerves related to hearing, although it can also be related to problems in the veins and arteries that supply blood to that area.
In this case, only the person who suffers from it can hear the noise and it can be tinnitus in one ear or tinnitus in both ears.
Also called pulsatile tinnitus, it’s usually caused by sounds created by movements of the muscles around the ear, by changes in the ear canals or due to vascular problems, usually in the neck area.
In this case, you may hear a sound similar to your own heartbeat. In addition, your doctor may also hear the sound when performing a medical exam.
What are the common symptoms of tinnitus?
As mentioned above, tinnitus can present itself as a sound that you can perceive with different characteristics. This can include sounds like buzzing, roaring, ringing and clicking, among others.
The intensity of these sounds can vary, occurring in one or both ears and can sometimes become so intense, that they could prevent you from carrying out your daily activities normally due to the annoying noise.
In very few occasions, some cases have been observed in which, in addition to a sound, a sensation of pressure is also perceived in the ears, depending on the case, and even more rare is the sensation of pain.
11 possible causes of tinnitus
Generally speaking, the two most common causes of tinnitus are hearing loss caused by aging, known as “presbycusis“, and exposure to loud noise, which can cause “acoustic trauma”.
In the first case, the tinnitus is usually permanent, but in the second, in a large percentage of the time, the condition is usually temporary.
However, there are also other factors that can cause tinnitus, both temporary and permanent. Let’s see the most common:
1. Excessive accumulation of earwax.
This can cause hearing loss and irritation in the inner ear, leading to the appearance of tinnitus.There are several solutions to clean you ear effectively some more effective and safe than others.
2. Ear infections or ruptured eardrum.
Inflammation and malfunction of the delicate organs that make up the inner ear can lead to tinnitus.It can be caused by excessive earwax (see above).
3. Certain medications.
Consuming too much of certain medications can cause and worsen tinnitus. Among the main drugs that can cause this condition we have:
- Diuretic pills
- Medicines to treat cancer
- Some antidepressant medications
- Commonly used pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen
4. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine.
Alcohol can cause inflammation in certain tissues of your body, including those that make up the inner ear. Likewise, caffeine in excessive amounts can cause irritation and alterations in the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
5. Dental problems and temporomandibular problems.
A malfunction of the interconnecting bones near the ear area can cause tinnitus.
Ears and teeth are deeply connected. I remember when I was young going to the doctor for repeated otitis when in fact the problem came from poorly treated cavities. Yet another reason to have good dental hygiene.
6. Head and neck injuries.
Receiving some type of trauma in the neck area or in specific areas of your head, can affect the nerves related to hearing.
7. A sudden change in environmental pressure (barotrauma).
This usually happens in people who practice activities such as SCUBA diving. A sudden change in pressure in internal organs – including those in the ear – can affect the function of the ear canals.
8. Meniere’s disease.
Meniere’s disease is specific to the inner ear and causes abnormal function of its organs. This disease is related to an abnormal change in pressure in the inner ear.
9. Blood flow disorders.
Some diseases that affect the normal functioning of veins and arteries, especially those that supply blood to the neck and head area, can be the cause of tinnitus. Among these conditions we have:
- Carotid atherosclerosis
- Arteriovenous abnormalities
- Capillary malformations
- Blood clots
- Hypertension and hypotension
Fortunately, thanks to technology, it is possible to have a blood pressure monitor at home.
10. Nervous type diseases.
Certain conditions that affect the nervous system can cause tinnitus, since they can alter the normal reception and delivery of electrical impulses related to hearing.
11. Muscle spasms.
The auditory organs have muscles, both internally and externally, which for various reasons can suffer from temporary or constant spasms. This can cause the organs of the inner ear to malfunction, causing tinnitus.
Now the big question is :
Can tinnitus be cured and go away?
To date, conventional medicine has not found or developed a 100% effective drug or treatment to cure tinnitus.
Despite the above, today there are many types of natural alternative therapies that can help you in controlling tinnitus with great success. In many cases, there have been even reports of people who have managed to overcome the condition.
However, always remember that in any case, you should always consult with a hearing professional to help you set the correct goals and effectively treat your tinnitus. This may require dedication and time, but it’s perfectly possible to achieve positive results.
Here is a list of treatments that you can try. Remember, everybody is different and what works on me won’t necessarily work on you.
5 natural treatments that can help you cure or control tinnitus
1. Sound-masking devices
These types of devices work by hiding the internal sound caused by tinnitus. A sound-masking device might consist of a tabletop machine or a small device that you can place directly in the ear.
These devices produce an ambient sound, be it musical, white, pink or natural, which allows your brain to focus on that sound, rather than the sound caused by tinnitus.
2. Behavioral therapy
In some cases, tinnitus can be caused by high stress loads, including depression and anxiety.
Many of the people who suffer from this type of conditions, also tend to suffer from insomnia, and it is scientifically proven that the latter can cause certain types of alterations at the nervous level that in some cases, can also cause the appearance of tinnitus.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a conversation therapy that seeks to teach you to control psychological conditions through acceptance. This can help you manage your stress load.
Depending on the type of tinnitus you’re suffering from, this therapy can help you improve your condition, especially in cases of temporary tinnitus.
In cases of permanent tinnitus, the goal of the therapy is to enable you to effectively manage the stress load that tinnitus itself produces, teaching you to live with your condition in a normal way.
Exercise can also be a fairly effective form of therapy in some cases of tinnitus.
Exercising can help you improve different factors in your own body, such as improving your cardiovascular condition, strength, or in achieving higher levels of relaxation and general well-being, and it can even help you sleep better.
All of the above can positively affect your tinnitus.
In most cases, specialists recommend progressively increasing walks in intensity, but a therapy exercise routine may also include stretching and strength/endurance exercises, depending on your age and general health.
4. Alternative stress reduction practices
Alternative stress management practices such as Yoga, Qi Gong and Mindfulness can help you in developing skills that allow you to focus your attention away from the noise caused by tinnitus.
Many of these alternative therapies are used positively to reduce the pain caused by other conditions, but they have been shown to be effective in controlling tinnitus as well.
In this case, you have two options: enrolling in a club or academy where you can do such practices, or paying for an online course that you can follow comfortably from your home.
5. Alternative treatments
There are also many other types of therapies and treatments that can significantly help you improve tinnitus or in some cases, overcome it. These alternative treatments include hypnosis, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies.
Some nutritional supplements are based on combinations of a whole series of vitamins and plants that produce positive effects on the cardiovascular and nervous systems. This series of ingredients can include:
- B vitamins
- Ginkgo Biloba
Among other specialized plants.
This approach can help you remarkably in cases of tinnitus related to these two systems, as already mentioned in a previous section, since they help improve the health condition in such systems, producing toning and regenerative effects in many cases.