Hundreds of millions of people in the world live with tinnitus and experience sounds in their heads and constant ringing, buzzing or whistling in their ears that are not related to external sounds. Unfortunately, at present there is no cure for tinnitus. There is no pill, no diet, no surgery that can cure or reduce tinnitus. Many say that they can treat tinnitus, say that they have a treatment that can cure or reduce tinnitus, but so far there is no scientifically proven treatment against tinnitus. So if you have tinnitus, it is here to stay.
What is Tinnitus? Tinnitus is noises in the head, not related to any psychiatric condition. The noise can be heard anywhere in the head or in one or both ears. So far there are no scientific proven cure for tinnitus.
Imagine a constant ringing, buzzing or whistling in your ear, 24 hours a day. It is called tinnitus. You never get a break. It is always there. Nobody else but you can hear the noise because it does not come from any external source. Although you are the only person who can hear the noise it is not a result of your imagination.
Types of tinnitus
Tinnitus can vary a lot between individuals; therefore you can find many different types of tinnitus. Tinnitus varies considerably in intensity and type. Some people describe tinnitus as high-frequency whistling sounds while others perceive tinnitus as a buzzing noise or a sound similar to butter sizzling in a frying pan. But some experience, instead, a thumping sound in the same rhythm as their heartbeat. This is called pulsatile tinnitus. Read more about the types of tinnitus.
Causes of tinnitus
Most commonly, tinnitus is caused by exposure to noise. Working in noisy surroundings for many years without using special protective equipment increases the risk of developing tinnitus as well as hearing loss.
Aging rock stars typically suffer from tinnitus after having spent years in front of gigantic loudspeakers without hearing protection. Concert audiences exposed to high noise levels are in the danger zone and people who use firearms are also at high risk.
Earplugs or other hearing protection often prevents tinnitus that otherwise would be caused by excessive noise. You should always wear hearing protection when subjected to loud noise, even if you do not find the noise uncomfortable. Hearing loss at higher frequencies is often painless, and the most common result is tinnitus.
You should also bear in mind that the damaging effect on the hair cells in the inner ear is accumulated over time. After constant exposure to excessive noise, it takes less to develop tinnitus or hearing loss.
Even a single incident of exposure to an extremely loud noise, such as fireworks or other explosions or a gun shot fired close to the ear can trigger hearing loss or tinnitus.
Other causes of tinnitus may include:
- Blows to your head
- Large doses of certain drugs such as aspirin
- Compacted ear wax
- Middle ear infections
- Menièrè’s disease
- Head trauma
- Perilymp fistula (a hole in the inner ear, allowing fluid to escape)
- Certain types of tumours
- Dysfunction of the joint connecting the jaw to the bone under the ear
Consequences of tinnitus
Side effects of tinnitus may include psychological, physical and social problems. Some sufferers experience stress, fatigue, emotional problems and depression. Many also find it difficult to maintain concentration as a lot of energy is used on the annoying sound in the ears and slowly this drains away all energy.
Tinnitus is common in people over the age of 40, but is becoming increasingly prevalent in younger people due to increased daily noise levels, including those caused by the unrestrained use of MP3s, iPods etc.
Can tinnitus be cured?
Many offer a cure or a treatment for tinnitus and some offer products against tinnitus, but so far there are no scientific proven treatment or cure for tinnitus. But different types coping strategies may help people to live with their tinnitus.
The feeling of helplessness makes those suffering from tinnitus look for any kind of relief and vulnerable to often highly questionable and unsubstantiated claims about new treatment methods or even cures. While specialist knowledge about tinnitus is increasing, many aspects remain unclear. And many types of cures are offered without scientific documentation.
Psychology plays a major part in tinnitus, and tinnitus sufferers may actually benefit from many of the tinnitus related offers, especially if they include relaxation and counseling.
Tinnitus and hearing loss
Many people who suffer from tinnitus may also suffer from hearing loss. Although tinnitus is more common among people who suffer from hearing loss, anyone can suffer from tinnitus. It is also possible to suffer from major hearing loss without contracting tinnitus at all.
If you experience both tinnitus and hearing loss and you begin to use hearing aids, you will find that hearing aids may both improve hearing and reduce the irritation of tinnitus.
Read more about the relation between tinnitus and hearing loss
Some are greatly affected by their tinnitus while others are not bothered by it that much and experience only weak tinnitus. Many people learn to live with their tinnitus, even though it is strong. It can be difficult, but you can learn to live with your tinnitus!