Tinnitus treatment

Tinnitus can best be described as a ringing or swishing noise that typically originates in either the ear or the head. Up to 36 million Americans suffer from this disorder, which is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, rather than a disease in its own right. Although some may not consider this a serious problem, it can be a nuisance until it is eventually resolved.

The most common areas that tinnitus can arise will be in the inner ear, the outer ear, and the middle ear, or occasionally it is caused by abnormalities of the brain. However you should also be aware that some head noise or tinnitus is completely normal, but we are usually completely unaware of many of the sounds that are head or body makes. You will typically be more aware of these internal noises if a foreign body such as wax is found in the external ear. Tinnitus can also be caused by a disease of the middle ear bones, excess fluid or an infection. Probably the most common cause of tinnitus is when the microscopic endings of the hearing nerves, which are found inside the inner ear, become damaged.

Tinnitus can also be caused by certain amount of hearing nerve impairment which will usually occur as you get older. Being exposed to loud noise will often damage the hearing and can, indeed, cause tinnitus as well. However, it must be said, that the majority of people appear to be extremely unconcerned about the potentially dangerous effects of loud noise, such as high-intensity music and firearms. Certain medications such as aspirin have been known to cause tinnitus, as well as diseases of the inner ear like Meniere’s syndrome. Although extremely rare, tinnitus may even be a symptom of a far more serious problem such as a brain tumor or aneurysm.

In order to evaluate tinnitus, a doctor will firstly need to determine precisely where it is originating from. This will require a medical history, physical examination and also a series of specialist tests. You should also tell your doctor whether your tinnitus is constant, intermittent or pulsating, just like a heartbeat. You should also explain whether you are experiencing any other symptoms such as a loss of balance or even hearing loss. Your doctor may perform an audiogram, or hearing test, on you. You may also require an auditory brain stem response, which in essence is a computerized test of the brain pathways and hearing nerves. Often you may also need to undergo either a CT or MRI scan. This is typically to rule out the possibility of a tumor occurring in either your hearing or balance nerve. Although these types of tumors are extremely rare, they are known to cause tinnitus.

Once your doctor has fully evaluated you, they will be able to either treat, or make recommendations to treat your tinnitus. In many cases of tinnitus, you may not actually require any specific treatment as it is likely to go away on its own. Then there are those who are unfortunate enough to have to live with tinnitus as a permanent disability. Unfortunately there is no known cure for the majority of forms of tinnitus however you do have certain options to manage and relieve you from it. There is still much research that needs to be done into certain medications that may help to relieve tinnitus patients, but we are now aware that certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are proving to be extremely helpful.

Many people choose to use low-level sound generators to treat tinnitus. This will involve having to wear a device that is much like a hearing aid, which will produce broadband noise that is soft enough for the brain to perceive both the noise and the tinnitus. Your brain will eventually learn certain patterns that can help to de-emphasize a tinnitus disorder. These devices are often used to help people who are overly sensitive to sound. There are also numerous forms of acoustic therapy that once again involve the use of a sound generator. These are sometimes used in a combination with a hearing aid which will enable speech to be amplified as well as the external environmental noise. This will help to stimulate both your ear and brain which had previously not been receiving enough stimulation due to hearing loss.

Music therapy, especially classical music, is known to be soothing to the limbic system. This is mainly because classical music does not have wide variations in loudness and it is also able to stimulate the auditory cortex. Some people with tinnitus will need to undergo a process known as neuromonics acoustic desensitization protocol. This will involve a body worn processor that is connected to high fidelity earphones that will play music that is then filtered in direct accordance with your hearing loss. There also seems to be a connection between tinnitus and stress and therefore keeping your levels of stress under control may be a suitable treatment. Some self-help methods to overcome stress include self hypnosis, relaxation and guided imagery. Other forms of treatment for tinnitus may include counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and even certain dental treatments that can treat jaw joint disorders.

Last updated on Apr 26th, 2011 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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