Are you experiencing a ringing sound in your ears? If yes then you may have Tinnitus!

There was a statistical survey study that pointed 1 in every 22 individuals to have tinnitus. You may classify it as a plague, however, Tinnitus is not a disease; its more of a condition wherein the individual experiences or perceives a sound even though there isn’t any in the environment. That is the reason why it is classified as a condition rather than a disease! Let us analyse different Types of Tinnitus, Causes of Tinnitus, tinnitus Treatment and rehabilitation Procedures.

There are 2 categories of Tinnitus:

  • Objective Tinnitus
  • Subjective Tinnitus

Objective Tinnitus is a rare form of tinnitus wherein other individuals can also hear the sound from the sufferer’s ears. This sound can have its origins through muscle spasms or blood pressure variations which create a crackling sound in the middle ear region. There is a form of Objective Tinnitus known as the Pulsatile Tinnitus in which sound is caused with the movement of the pulse. As the blood rushes near the ear region, there is a sort of turbulence which results in this form of Tinnitus sound. This may also indicate inflammatory disease of blood vessels.

Subjective Tinnitus is the more common form of Tinnitus and there are numerous underlying causes of this. The causes can be:

  • Hearing Loss and Ear Problems
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • And many Others!

What adds to a Doctor’s depression while dealing with tinnitus cases is that large percentages go unsolved where the patients don’t understand why their doctor isn’t able to provide them a solution; and even switching consultants doesn’t guarantee satisfactory results! Cases which find no relief through medicine can be dealt with through counselling and a rehabilitative approach. This requires intervention and efforts from the audiologist who is a rehabilitation expert.

Let us introduce the concept of tinnitus maskers as well as tinnitus retrenchment therapy here. Now if a patient isn’t able to find satisfactory answers to his problem through medicine and its giving him sleepless nights, then tinnitus maskers can provide a relief.

Tinnitus basically is an internal sound which the sufferer perceives in absence of any sound in the environment. This helps us understand that the perception of tinnitus can be reduced if there are external sounds which actually exist. In almost all tinnitus cases, the disturbance increases during night time when external sounds are minimal. Let us understand through a corollary; if you switch on a torch light during the day time that too on a clear sunny day and point it to someone’s face, it may not be pinching to him, however if you do the same at night, it can be really disturbing. It is interesting to note that the intensity of the torch light remains the same at all times just the perception gets masked during the day due to presence of external lights.  We can apply this corollary to tinnitus as well. There is a device called masker which can generate a white noise which can be used to mask the perception of tinnitus. This white noise is no ordinary noise like that of traffic or a generator, it is a researched concept based on sea shore sounds or Zen music etc which provides a soothing effect to the limbic system as well.

One thing has to be understood clearly, concept of tinnitus masker is to reduce the perception of tinnitus by diverting the brain’s attention to a similar external noise. This is a rehabilitative approach and sometimes may require months to take effect, so one should not expect an overnight magic. In any way, in absence of any concrete solutions, Tinnitus maskers are the most preferred options as a non-medicinal treatment having no side effects!

 

Question: My doctor proposed a surgery and assured tinnitus will be solved. What should I do?

Answer: As stated above, there are many a causes for tinnitus, and the ENT specialist may have narrowed down to an issue requiring surgical intervention which may also have the roots to tinnitus; however guarantee to cure tinnitus seems a little bizarre or over-optimistic.

A secondary conclusion to this may be that the doctor is following a hit & trial approach which seem to benefit at least 10 percent cases!

 

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