What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a symptom and not a condition in and of itself. The definition of Tinnitus describes the symptom of being able to hear things which no one else can, although in a rare number of instances, this isn’t true. Tinnitus is a very common condition with approximately 10% of the population suffering from Tinnitus to one degree or another. It is most commonly found in elderly people although it is becoming much more widespread in the younger population. Tinnitus can be found in one or both ears or sometimes it feels like it is coming from the middle of your head.
Tinnitus is most commonly found in elderly people although it is becoming much more common in younger people now. Possibly because of the fact that people are living in noisier environments today.
The sounds which are heard vary from patient to patient. Some patients hear a musical tone, although most patients hear something which sounds more like a hissing or whistling or a buzzing or a ringing noise. For a lot of patients, it is more of an inconvenience and doesn’t affect their daily lives although for a number of patients, it is so bad that they need some kind of treatment to relieve the symptoms
Tinnitus is caused by damage to the nerves in the inner ear (cochlea). These nerves transmit electrical impulses to the brain which the brain then interprets as sounds. When these nerves are damaged, the signal becomes distorted. When this distorted signal gets to the brain, the brain interprets it as a noise which is Tinnitus.
In elderly people, it is seen as part of growing older and is called presbyacusis. In younger people, medical professionals are of the opinion that it is due to repeatedly being exposed to loud noises.
There are other causes of Tinnitus as well which include Anemia – where the thin blood rushes around the body so quickly that it can cause a sound. Excessive wax in the ear can also cause tinnitus. Menieres Disease which is a condition affecting balance can also have a side effect of Tinnitus. Both medications and illegal substances can also cause Tinnitus as the body reacts to them.
In the majority of cases, there is no cure for Tinnitus. Most treatments simply relieve the symptoms by masking the cause.
Tinnitus is sometimes strongly related to the patients level of stress. By managing this level of stress via the use of sedatives, tranquilizers or anti-depressants, the symptoms of tinnitus can be relieved.
Some drugs which affect the conduction of electrical impulses in the affected nerves have been found to relieve the symptoms of stress.
There are a number of self help measures which patients can employ either on their own or in concert with any assistance that a doctor can prescribe. These include listening to soothing music on a personal stereo before the patient goes to sleep. There are white noise generators which can mask the noise inside your head. This means that you can’t hear the noise generated by tinnitus.
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