Tinnitus is the constant buzzing, ringing, whistling, hissing, roaring, clicking, or humming sound in the ears in the absence of any source of sound around. It is a subjective condition, which means only the person who has this condition can hear the sounds. This does not mean that it is an imaginary condition. There are thousands of people across the globe suffering from it.
Different patients experience tinnitus in different ways. For many patients, it could be mild and does not affect them when they are surrounded by regular noises, such as talking, fan, traffic, music, etc. For some patients, it could be so severe it may not allow them to focus and concentrate. Some patients hear the sound when there is a complete silence whereas, for others, tinnitus increases in the presence of loud noise. Some may hear the noises on and off, while some may hear it continuously.
The chances of getting tinnitus increases with the age, however, it is also observed in children. The prevalence of tinnitus in the young population is increasing because of the habit of listening to audios at high volumes by using the earphones.
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What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease in itself. It is often the symptom of some underlying condition that affects the nerves of the ear or conduction of sound in the ear.
- Exposure to loud noise: The exposure to the loud noise, for instance, attending a rock concert, listening to loud music with headphones, or occupations where there is constant exposure to the loud noise, such as drilling, etc., can lead to tinnitus. Tinnitus resulting due to the short-term exposure to the loud noise can vanish on its own.
- Intake of certain medicines that could be harmful to the nerves of the ear: For instance, aspirin, certain antibiotics, antimalarial medicines, certain antidepressants, certain anticonvulsant medicines, etc. may cause tinnitus at times.
- Impacted ear wax: When the ear gets blocked due to excess of ear wax, it may cause hearing loss and tinnitus in that ear. This could be reversed by removing the accumulated wax.
- Infections and tumors in the ears.
- It could also be a symptom of Meniere’s disease, a condition in which the person experiences a loss of balance, vertigo, and tinnitus.
- Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure: These conditions are commonly seen in the elderly where the blood vessels become hard due to the accumulation of cholesterol and lose its elasticity. This causes the blood to flow with pressure and, hence, the person hears the sounds, pulsations of his heartbeat.
- Head and neck injuries could also lead to tinnitus
- Acoustic neuroma
- The problem with Eustachian tubes could cause tinnitus. This is a tube that connects the middle ear to the throat.
- Otosclerosis: Fusion of the bones of the middle ear could lead to tinnitus.
- Problem with temporomandibular joint: The joint that connects the lower jaw with the skull when affected may cause tinnitus.
- Muscle spasms of the inner ear can cause tinnitus.
Types of Tinnitus:
Here are some types of tinnitus that you should be aware of.
- Subjective tinnitus: Only heard by the patient
- Objective tinnitus: Heard by the patient as well as the doctor. For instance, tinnitus resulting due to muscle spasm of the ear
- Pulsatile tinnitus: This is the sound that is in the same rhythm as the heartbeat and can happen in conditions, such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, etc.
How Does the Doctor Diagnose Tinnitus?
- Based on the patient’s history
- General and neurological examination
- Investigations like Audiogram because tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss.
- MRI to rule out blood vessel abnormalities and the possibilities of tumors.
- Tinnitus has to be differentiated from auditory hallucinations. Here the person hears meaningful words and sentences being spoken into his head and is a sign of schizophrenia.
How to Manage Tinnitus?
- Protect your ears, while working in the environment with loud noises, by wearing earplugs. If possible, avoid working in the environment with a loud noise.
- Avoid listening to music or audios with headphones on.
- If you are unable to concentrate on your work due to tinnitus, try putting some background sound like the sound of a fan or soft music, etc.
- Since tinnitus is associated with hearing loss, it is seen that wearing hearing aids also improves the tinnitus to a certain extent.
- For some people, tinnitus gets worse after eating particular foods. Keep a track of the foods you eat and figure out the consumption of which foods increase your tinnitus. Foods, such as excessive salt, sugary food, sugary drinks, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, fast foods, etc. might be a trigger for the condition. Figure out which exact food triggers your tinnitus.
- Certain foods like bananas, pineapples, food rich in zinc like shellfish, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds help to improve your relief in tinnitus. So, include them in your diet.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Living with tinnitus could be pretty stressful, depressing, and can lead to anxiety. It may affect your quality of life. Since this is a life-long condition, cognitive behavioral therapy could help improve the affected person’s attitude towards his condition and make it more bearable. Cognitive-behavioral therapy could also help to address the underlying anxiety and depression.
- Tinnitus could interfere with getting sleep, and improper sleep could cause stress and anxiety, thereby aggravating the tinnitus. For this, one may practice mindfulness meditation, use essential oils, such as Lavender oil, that help in relaxation and inducing sleep, and have some white noise in the background. Sleeping in an extremely silent room could increase your perception of tinnitus.
Treatment for Tinnitus:
Conventional medicines can only manage tinnitus. However, they cannot cure the condition completely.
Can Homeopathy Help for Tinnitus?
Homeopathy has several medicines for different types of tinnitus. The response to the treatment would vary from case to case depending on the underlying cause, severity, and duration of the tinnitus.
Homeopathic medicines for different types of tinnitus sounds as per the Repertory by Oscar E Boericke are listed below.
- For Buzzing sound: Bar-m, Chenopodium, and Chin S
- For Hissing sound: Chin S, Graphitis, and Teuc
- For Humming sound: Caust, Kali P, and Lyco
- For Pulsating and throbbing sound: Ferr-p, Glonine, Morph, and Puls
- For Reechoing of voice: Bar M and Causticum
- For Ringing of bells: Bella, Chin S, Graph, and Nat sal
- For Roaring: Chin S, Graphites, Lyco, Puls, and Sal Ac
- For Whizzing: Hepar, Bar M, and Bella
The above is just meant for information. It is not to be taken as medicine. Consult your doctor before you take them.