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Understanding the "Ringing" in your Ears

Have you ever experienced a ringing/ buzzing or a roaring sound inside your ears? Do you see the elders at your home complaining they can hear something while there is no sound present externally? Many people, especially when in a quiet room or after listening to loud music, report that they can hear sound in their ears or in their head. These sounds or noises are referred to as Tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the ringing/buzzing/roaring sounds you hear when there is no sound present externally. It is a common condition seen in 15-20% of the people and is quite common among older adults.

Tinnitus as such is not a disease but it is the symptom of an underlying condition. It indicates the malfunctioning of our ears. In many cases if the disease is cleared there is an evident reduction in tinnitus.

Majority of the population who have tinnitus suffer from subjective tinnitus i.e., only the person suffering can hear the tinnitus. But, in rare cases, tinnitus could also be heard by another member which is known as objective tinnitus. In such cases the tinnitus is described as rhythmic pulsing or whooshing form known as pulsatile tinnitus.

There are various reasons for tinnitus, which could worsen the tinnitus over a period.

Tinnitus could be among the first symptoms of hearing loss especially in older people. It is also a common symptom in those who have noise induced hearing loss. Some of the causes include:

· Hearing Loss

· Ear infections

· Medications

· Ménière’s disease

· Brain tumors

· Abnormalities of the heart

Some people might develop tinnitus even without any obvious reason. Although tinnitus could cause annoyance it need not be an indication of a serious health condition. It can be fatigue, depression, anxiety. Tinnitus can be a source of real mental and emotional anguish.

Management approach would vary depending upon the underlying condition.

If a specific cause is found, resolving the condition would be the first line of treatment, which will result in reduction in tinnitus symptom. This includes:

· Use of hearing aids. If there is a hearing loss especially due to noise or age related, use of hearing aids will reduce tinnitus

· Removal of ear wax. If ear canal is blocked with wax, it could cause tinnitus and clearing the ear canal would lead to reduction in tinnitus

· Tinnitus retraining therapy. In this the patient would be counselled why tinnitus happens and how they can habituate themselves to it. Hence, reducing the negative emotion attached to it. Leads to reduction in annoyance.

· Avoiding quiet environment. Tinnitus increases in quiet environment and person experiencing tinnitus should avoid quiet environment.

· Change of medication. Use of certain drugs may increase or worsen tinnitus. Talk to your doctor regarding the difficulty you face and ask them for a change of medication.

At Bangalore Cochlear Implant Institute, A team of Audiologist and ENTs provide the management options for persons experiencing tinnitus. For any information connect with us through Ph: +91 6366888883

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