What Is Tinnitus and How Can It Be Treated?

Tinnitus is the feeling of hearing noises which sound as though they are coming from within the ear, rather than being caused by any external source. Commonly described as a ringing, humming, or buzzing. Often Tinnitus gets better on its own, but this will depend upon what has caused it. Where Tinnitus has become a long-term concern, there are a number of treatments and Tinnitus management options. 

What Is Tinnitus and How Can It Be Treated?
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What is Tinnitus and How is it Caused 

Tinnitus is not a disease nor an illness, in fact it is a symptom which can be linked to a number of conditions. 

There is not a definitive cause of Tinnitus and in some cases this never clear. It has often been linked to the following: 

Hearing loss 

Ménière's disease

Anxiety and/or Depression 

As a side effect of certain side effects 

As a result of particular conditions, like diabetes or multiple sclerosis

Although Tinnitus is not considered serious, it can be very irritating and uncomfortable to live with. Often affecting daily activities and sleep patterns. Which is why many people will seek some sort of treatment or management technique to reduce the sounds and sensations within their ear. 

Who experiences Tinnitus? 

Tinnitus is actually quite common, with reports of this amongst all age groups. Around 30% of people will experience Tinnitus at some point in their lives. Reports of persistent Tinnitus are found in around 1 in 8 people. This is much more likely to affect those who have hearing loss and other hearing or ear-related conditions. 

Studies into the occurrence of tinnitus have also found that those who work in particular industries are much more likely to experience Tinnitus. With Tinnitus being particularly prevalent amongst musicians and those working within the music and entertainment industry. Thanks to an increase in exposure to higher rates and volumes noise, hearing loss is prevalent within the music industry – causing symptoms of Tinnitus. Audiologists, like the Audiologist Santa Monica, LA, will typically recommend hearing protection of some kind to help prevent gradual hearing loss and tinnitus for those frequently exposed to loud noises. Their expertise can provide personalized solutions to protect your hearing health in high-noise environments.

Types of Tinnitus 

Pulsatile Tinnitus 

Pulsatile tinnitus has been described as hearing a noise which has the same beat and rate as that of the heart. This is often determined by feeling for the pulse at the same time whilst tuning into the tinnitus. This type of tinnitus is caused by a changed in blood flow within the vessels near the ear. Although this can occasionally go away on its own, it may also be an indicator of another underlying condition, such as high blood pressure. It is therefore important to speak with your doctor who can carry out a medical examination. 

Musical hallucination (musical tinnitus)

Musical hallucination or musical tinnitus is a type of tinnitus where music is heard despite none being played. Typically, tinnitus is hearing sounds like buzzing and ringing. Musical hallucination is much more complex. These sounds are often heard as short simple melodies which are found in songs and music the patient is familiar with. Usually these are songs, hymns or even carols which were prevalent in their youth. 

Musical tinnitus is much more common in women and particularly those who live alone, over the age of 60. It is also common in individuals who have epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease. Although it may not be a cause for concern, it is important to mention this to your doctor if you do begin to experience this sensation. 

Treatments - Tinnitus Management 

Currently there is no drug to completely treat Tinnitus. However, psychology-based techniques are currently used to improve the symptoms and the quality of life of those who experience persistent tinnitus. This includes therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Various methods include: 

Tinnitus Counselling – This is used to help patients understand their tinnitus and finding ways to cope with this. 

CBT – Often linked to anxiety and depression, CBT can be used to alter the way patients think about their tinnitus and addressing the anxiety which is often caused by this. 

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy – This method makes use of sound therapy to address the noises you are hearing and to train your brain to tune out these sounds. Helping to reduce the noises you are hearing. 

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