What is Tinnitus and How Is It Treated?

Ever heard the expression, “Your ears must have been ringing?” this is old wives tale that says someone was talking about you.  While that in itself isn’t Tinnitus, it speaks to the symptoms.  Tinnitus is noise that comes from within the ear, rather than outside the ear.  These sounds can be heard in one or both ears.

TINNITUS DESCRIBED: The sounds that are heard have been described by Tinnitus suffers as “a ringing sound inside my ears”, “a sort of buzzing or humming sound”, “as if I could hear water running”, “similar to when I’d be at the beach and hold a seashell to my ear.

The symptoms described are varied as is the medical definition:.

Tonal Tinnitus, often described as “a ringing sound in my ear”, is continuous until ending.

Pulsatile Tinnitus produces a pulsating sound in rhythm with your heartbeat.  The sounds can be continuous or irregular.

Tinnitus produces a variety of sounds which include buzzing, roaring, whistling and hissing.

While not as predominant, people have reported dizziness, pain, headaches and a sensation of their ear(s) feeling full.

While Tinnitus in itself is not life threatening, it can be caused by medical conditions not readily apparent.  A visit to your doctor or Otolaryngolist (ear doctor) is recommended.  In most cases there is no reason for alarm; however the condition has been associated with blood pressure, kidney disease, allergies and diet, a doctors visit can rule out any serious conditions.

While there is no specialized or single treatment for tinnitus, prescription drug therapy has been used effectively and includes anti-anxiety, antidepressants, antihistamines, anticonvulsants and anesthetics.  Of course none of these should be self-medicated, a doctor’s visit is recommended and the prudent course of action.

While not necessarily endorsed by the medical profession, herbal and homeopathic remedies have seen levels of success, as well as alternative medical treatments such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Cranio-sacral therapy
  • Magnets
  • Hyperbaric oxygen
  • Hypnosis and
  • Massage therapy
  • White Noise or Tinnitus Maskers

While this is not a prescribed course of action, a level of success has been reported by those willing to wear maskers.  A masker (inserted like a hearing aid into the ear canal) produces white noise, masking other sounds; a 60% success rate has been reported.

Biofeedback: While biofeedback is most normally associated with hypnosis and relaxation, it is a technique allowing one to learn the control of various functions of the body.  When learned (and in some patients) biofeedback can be used to reduce stress and anxiety which serve as a catalyst contributing to tinnitus symptoms.

Medically speaking, Tinnitus is due to irregularities within the ear or brain and may be induced when entering a space that has minimal background noise.  Tinnitus can be experienced by anyone of any age or level of health.  Occasional ringing (or other sounds) may be perfectly normal and quickly pass.

The irregularities spoken of could be as simple as wax build up, or symptoms of ear disease.  Tinnitus will be usually be experienced to greater or lesser degrees by most during their lifetime; symptoms can be accelerated by certain type of medications, loud music, aneurysm or tumors.

If you have concerns, it is always wise to put worry to rest by visiting your doctor or health care professional.