Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears) –Types, Causes and Prevention

The medical term for a buzzing or ringing noise (perception of noise) in the ears is called tinnitus or ringing in the ear. In reality, it is a sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present.best ent doctor for tinnitus

However, one might also hear sounds other than ringing including buzzing, roaring, clicking, humming, whistling and hissing. Ringing in the ear or tinnitus can be frustrating. The sound you hear can interfere with hearing the real sound. People of all age group can develop tinnitus and one may experience it in one or both the ears. Nearly about 15 to 20% of people have this problem.

Tinnitus is not a condition itself – rather an indication of an underlying condition – which could be an ear injury, an age-related hearing loss or a circulatory disorder. Therefore, it is better to consult the best ENT doctor for tinnitus if one is unsure of the cause.

Tinnitus is of two types

Subjective Tinnitus – In this type, the person who has tinnitus can only hear sound in ears. This could be due to ear problems – outer, inner and middle ear problems. The condition can also be due to problems in the auditory nerves and the part of the brain that interprets nerve signals.

Objective tinnitus – In this type of tinnitus, both the person who has this problem and the doctor who is examining him or her can hear a sound. This is a rare type of condition caused by problems with muscle contraction, middle ear bone condition and blood vessel.

Tinnitus Causes

Several health conditions can cause tinnitus or make it worse, but in many cases, there is no exact cause. The common cause of tinnitus is damage to the middle or inner ear. Damage in the tiny bone or eardrums in your middle ear interferes with proper conduction of sound. One of the prominent causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud sounds and around 90% of people with tinnitus have some level of noise-induced hearing impairment.

Tumours in the auditory nerve or in the ear may also cause ringing in the ears. On a regular basis exposure to very loud music can also be the cause of tinnitus in some people.

People who use jackhammers, chainsaws or other heavy equipment are more likely to be at an increased risk of developing tinnitus.

The Medical conditions that can cause tinnitus include the following:

  • Hearing loss which is age-related
  • Inner-ear hair cell damage
  • Middle ear muscle spasms
  • Meniere’s disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Neck and head injuries
  • Changes in the ear bone – middle ear bone stiffness (otosclerosis)
  • Excessive earwax accumulation

The Other Less Common Causes of Tinnitus

  • Vestibular schwannoma (Acoustic neuroma) is a benign tumour of the cranial nerve that controls balance and hearing. It causes tinnitus in one ear only.
  • Head and neck injuries can cause damage to the inner ear and hearing nerves and cause tinnitus
  • People with TMJ disorders can develop tinnitus
  • Meniere’s disease (An inner ear disorder) can cause abnormal inner ear fluid pressure – which leads to tinnitus
  • Muscle spasm in the inner ear
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction

Circulatory System Problems (Blood Vessels Disorders) linked to Tinnitus

  • Atherosclerosis (plaque build-up) in major arteries close to middle and inner ear makes the blood flow more forceful causing tinnitus in both the ears.
  • Tinnitus is more noticeable with hypertension
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
  • Narrowing of a carotid artery or jugular vein can disturb blood flow leading to tinnitus
  • Vascular neoplasm is a type of tumour that presses blood vessels in the head and neck region and cause tinnitus.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Tinnitus (Ringing in the ears)

To diagnose tinnitus ENT doctor will examine your ears and conduct a hearing test. To diagnose any deformities or damage in your ears your doctor may also recommend CT or MRI scans.

Tinnitus treatment in Hyderabad: Your doctor will first treat any underlying medical conditions causing your tinnitus, and will address any blood vessel abnormalities and also remove excess earwax if it is causing tinnitus and hearing loss. Your existing prescription medications may also be changed to restore normal hearing if your doctor suspects medications role in contributing to your tinnitus.

How to Prevent Tinnitus?

  • You can prevent tinnitus by protecting your ears from loud noises. To ensure this, keep an eye on the volume of your radio, television and personal music player.
  • Use mufflers and earplugs, in noisy environments.
  • Use medicines cautiously to avoid any kind of medications that could lead to tinnitus symptoms. Talk to you ENT doctor, if you have tinnitus and if you are using some medicines which are making your condition worse.
  • Schedule regular hearing test with the best ENT doctor for tinnitus to promptly detect any problems or structural changes in your middle and inner ear.
  • Use aspirin judiciously after consulting your ENT specialist

Bottom Line

About one in five people find tinnitus annoying, disturbing and debilitating – and for some other, it can lead to irritability, stress, anxiety, depression, poor work or school performance, insomnia and difficulty with concentration. On rare occasions, tinnitus can also indicate a serious underlying health condition. In a nutshell, a variety of conditions can lead to tinnitus – therefore, it is always better to consult the best ENT doctor for tinnitus to know the cause and seek appropriate treatment.

Fix an appointment with Dr Neetu Modgil for prompt diagnosis and apt treatment of tinnitus.

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