Understanding the Sounds of Tinnitus: FAQs[imwb_socialbuzz] By John On August 10, 2011 Under Ringing In Ears
Tinnitus is a condition that is characterized by a perception of ringing noise inside one or both ears. If you have been hearing weird noises inside your head or inside one ear or two ears, you probably have tinnitus. It’s difficult to study the sounds of tinnitus. Studies have been made but with each understanding of the condition, it seems to become more unconquerable.
What exactly is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common condition—much more common than you think. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have this often misunderstood hearing condition. As mentioned earlier, it’s a perception of noise. It can be described as a false perception of noise in the ears. The sound originates somewhere within the hearing system.
Scientists believe that the phantom noise originates from damaged hair cells in the cochlea. The damaged hair cells fire random signals, which are misinterpreted by the brain as noise. There are also studies that suggest that overactive neurons in the brain are responsible for the generation of “internal noises” heard as tinnitus. Another explanation says that the brain suffers from deficit of acoustic signals. As a result, it heightens its awareness, but this causes increased awareness to internal noise.
What causes tinnitus?
There is a wide range of disorders that cause tinnitus. However, the common causes of those weird sounds of tinnitus are abnormalities in or damage to the structures of the ears. Noise exposure causes the usual ear damage that result in tinnitus. Loud noise destroys hair cells in the cochlea, which are very delicate. This damage also causes hearing loss. That’s why people with tinnitus are often screened for hearing loss.
Other causes of tinnitus are Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis, jaw misalignment, acoustic neuroma, and certain drugs. Doctors would find and properly identify the cause of ringing in ears first before prescribing medications or therapies. However, many cases of tinnitus occur with unidentified culprits. Idiopathic tinnitus is what we call tinnitus that has no determined cause.
How do most people describe tinnitus?
People with the problem often describe hearing a high-pitch noise in one ear. The noise resembles ringing, hence the common term “ringing in the ears.” But tinnitus sometimes sounds like clicking or roaring noise. Other patients report hearing crickets in their ears, and people with cardiovascular problems may hear thumping noises in their ears. The common denominator is that only the sufferer can hear the noises. Scientists don’t know why people hear tinnitus differently. There are patients who hear monotonal ringing and patients who hear polytonal ringing in their ears and those who hear clicking noises.
Do sufferers hear sounds of tinnitus in both ears?
Tinnitus can be unilateral or bilateral. Unilateral tinnitus occurs in one ear only, and it’s more common. Bilateral tinnitus involves both ears but is much less common than the other.
How is this condition treated?
We have come to the tricky part of the discussion. Treatment for tinnitus varies greatly. It’s one of those conditions whose methods of treatment are extremely varied. Doctors can prescribe medications to treat tinnitus. Medications include lidocaine and melatonin. None of these medications have been made for tinnitus treatment, although doctors seem to assume they can be used for tinnitus. These medications give some benefit to sufferers, but they are not fit for long-term use.
The most popular form of therapy for tinnitus involves the use of broadband noise. It comes in different techniques, each using white noise or pink noise as a means for treatment. White noise sounds like soft hissing or hushing sound, quite similar to that noise you hear when you tune in your radio to a vacant frequency. This noise has the ability to mask the ringing noise you hear inside your head. Broadband noise is the main component of masking or sound therapy and tinnitus retraining therapy.
Masking employs white noise through various ways. There is a tinnitus masking CD which can be played on any CD player. There are also maskers which can be worn every day. And there are noise generators which can be kept playing constantly at home. Masking can be employed without the constant aid of an audiologist or a therapist. However, a patient needs to see an audiologist for proper adjustment of the loudness of the masking device. The loudness depends on the perceived intensity of tinnitus. The broadband noise is adjusted to a volume that’s enough to cover the noise of tinnitus.
In TRT, patients are also exposed to white noise but through a professionally supervised therapy. They go through counseling to educate them about tinnitus and help them understand it’s not a threatening or serious condition. They are allowed to listen to white noise that is set at a moderate volume not enough to cover the noise of tinnitus. The goal is to provide another sound which the sufferers can listen to. The white noise should keep their focus away from the ringing inside their ears. This is done until they become accustomed to their tinnitus and they learn to shift their focus away from it. Tinnitus retraining therapy can take a long time to become effective.
Can homeopathy cure tinnitus?
Many patients resort to alternative remedies like homeopathic products. Homeopathy is gaining popularity in the medical field. Some doctors advocate the use of homeopathic remedies, but still many are in doubt. To answer the question, homeopathy cannot cure tinnitus. Nothing can cure tinnitus, and homeopaths know that. What homeopathic agents do is that they activate the natural healing mechanism of the body through using naturally occurring substances.
Tinnitus research continues to help understand this condition better. Researchers hope that they would come to figure out a drug or technique that can stop tinnitus once and for all.