Tinnitus is a condition that causes a person to hear sounds and noises that no one else can hear. Tinnitus is a fairly common condition that occurs in about 10% of the population. Tinnitus is more commonly seen in the elderly although recent studies have shown an increase in the incidence of tinnitus in younger populations. Probably a factor as to why they’re doing so poorly is because of the increasing exposure to younger generation sounds such as music, guns, blow dryers, etc. People who suffer from tinnitus hear a variety of sounds such as musical tones, hissing, whistling, humming or ringing. . No two people will hear the same sound. Most affected people find these sounds more of an annoyance or a nuisance but they are able to continue their daily lives. However, in some cases tinnitus greatly affects the quality of life due to the constant discomfort of noise.
Tinnitus can be placed into two categories, objective and subjective. Only a doctor can distinguish between the two types. Objective tinnitus is actually considered to be a noise emanating from the ear. Anatomy Body sounds such as muscle spasms, heartbeat or pulse and blood flow can be heard through the patient’s ears. Subjective tinnitus is more common because it describes the symptoms the patient experiences. Subjective tinnitus sounds are not present for the doctor to hear the sound coming out of the ear.
There is no cure for tinnitus and it is difficult to determine the exact cause of tinnitus. There are four areas from which tinnitus can emerge, the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear and the brain. Wax or foreign bodies can block sound from the outside and damage the outer ear. Fluid in the middle of the ear, infection or disease can damage the eardrum or eardrum. Damage to the nerves in the inner ear can distort the sound. Finally, abnormalities in the brain can cause symptoms of tinnitus.
In addition, there are some diseases, defects, medications and emotional factors that can also cause the symptoms of tinnitus. However the most common cause is nerve damage in the inner ear (cochlea). The cochlea nerve transmits electrical impulses to the brain which interprets and distorts these signals sent to the brain. Distorted signals are interpreted as sounds by the brain. Tinnitus is the ultimate cause of symptoms to determine how the nerves are damaged.
Older people are more likely to have symptoms of tinnitus. As we age like many other areas of the body, the inner ear or middle ear gradually changes which causes hearing symptoms. Age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis. Mutations in the ear occur over a long period of time and usually occur in both ears. Loud noises occur in young people, it also impairs hearing. The cumulative effects of frequent exposure to loud noise will eventually lead to presbycusis. Depending on the duration of exposure and the frequency of the sound, it will determine if the nerve in the ear is damaged. In some cases, the loss can lead to a temporary hearing loss although permanent damage can lead to tinnitus or the need for hearing aids. However, not all tinnitus symptoms are caused by exposure to the environment or aging. Some of the changes that can occur inside the ear include otosclerosis. Bone stiffness in the middle ear is caused by changes in the ear bones. This abnormal growth puts pressure on other bones and nerves inside the ear.
The normal functions of our body such as breathing, heartbeat, muscle contraction and blood flow all sound. However, most people cannot hear these sounds because we are surrounded by noise which impairs our ability to hear these small sounds. However, if you eliminate outside noise, chances are you will hear your own body sound. In addition some changes in the body cause you to hear these sounds more easily.
Metabolic disorders in the body can cause symptoms of tinnitus due to deficiencies that interfere with metabolism. Most metabolic disorders are genetic in nature, meaning they pass through their parents ’genetic makeup. Metabolic disorder can cause abnormal enzyme function, the body produces too little or too little needed substance, or cannot break down certain substances. Common metabolic disorders that cause tinnitus include thyroid disease, hyperlipidemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, and iron deficiency anemia.
Anemia is a condition in which the blood is thinned by red blood cells, which supply the body with oxygen and nutrients. Thin blood begins to flow rapidly into the veins, causing noise. Anemia can lead to fatigue and eventually death if not taken care of immediately.
Meniere’s disease is a disorder that causes abnormal flow of fluid from the inner ear, affecting hearing and balance. Usually hearing loss and tinnitus occur in one ear, Meniere’s disease causes internal ear fluid pressure buildup. More likely causes of tinnitus include brain aneurysms, brain tumors, or acoustic neuromas. Aneurysms usually occur in the arteries at the bottom of the brain. A bead occurs in the blood vessels and fills with blood and the risk ruptures with increasing size. As the size of the aneurysm increases, the pressure on the surrounding blood vessels increases. Brain tumors and acoustic neuromas, benign tumors without cancer, put pressure on the blood vessels in the brain, cutting off nutrients and oxygen supply to the brain. The brain therefore interprets elevated blood pressure as distorted sounds. Acoustic neuromas usually occur on the cranial nerves that run from the brain to the inner ear, affecting balance and hearing.
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is secreted into the ear canal to protect the earlobe bacteria, fungi, insects and water. Regular removal of earwax should be maintained as excessive wax does not allow growth. Although Q-tips were originally created to help remove ear wax, it is now difficult to be more dangerous than an accessory. Using a Q-tip, you can direct the earwax into the ear canal, which can have the opposite effect on the eardrum. When the wax is pressed against the eardrum, the brain perceives this as sound signals.
Injuries to the head, neck, and temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) also affect tinnitus. Chiropractic malformations, multiple sclerosis, skull fractures, whiplash, head injury, and TMJ disorder, affect the ears, nerves, and blood vessels of the brain. Injuries and disorders cause abnormalities so that the brain perceives electric impulses differently than the brains of normal people. Neurological disorders also cause brain defects, which can cause tinnitus symptoms.
Prescription medications and over-the-counter medications also affect the body’s ability to perceive sound waves. Both legal and illegal drugs can cause the brain to receive distorted signals, which can cause tinnitus. Aspirin, antibiotics, cancer drugs, diuretics, quinine and chloroquine can all cause tinnitus symptoms.
Finally stress plays a huge role on the body’s ability to function properly. Unfortunately stress can stimulate the brain’s ability to interpret and understand stimuli. Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and panic are stressors that take a toll on the body’s ability to function. So the brain can misinterpret electrical impulses, which causes tinnitus.
Unfortunately with so many causes of tinnitus, it is difficult to determine which one is the cause of the subjective or objective symptoms. So it can be a lengthy process to find your specific cause of your condition. Until then tinnitus can be a major inconvenience and annoyance on your life. Plus the amount of tests and treatments you try without relief can be frustrating. However, there are many alternative medications that can be helpful in reducing your symptoms until you can completely resolve your current condition.