Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a sensation of hearing sounds when there is no external sound. The patients often describe it as a ringing, it may also sound like a clicking, hiss or roaring.
Rarely, it may be described as unclear voices or music are heard.
The sound may be soft, loud, low pitched or high pitched and often appear to be coming from one ear or both.
Usually, it comes on gradually. Furthermore, in many people, the sound causes depression and anxiety and can interfere with concentration.
Strangely, Tinnitus is not a disease, but it is a symptom that can result from many underlying causes.
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is a noise-induced hearing loss, ear infections, vascular disease (disease of the heart or blood vessels), brain tumors, emotional stress, exposure to certain medications, a previous head injury, as well as ear wax.
Also, It is more common in those with depression. It is a common problem that affects about 1 in 5 people and maybe a temporary condition or a permanent problem.
Diagnosis of tinnitus
The diagnosis of this hearing problem is mainly based on the person’s description.
Also, there are a number of medical sets that may help to assess the degree of this problem as audiogram and a neurological examination.
If there are any problems, medical imaging, such as with MRI, may be performed to make sure.
Additionally, Other tests can be performed when tinnitus occurs with the same rhythm as the heartbeat.
In rare conditions, the doctor can hear the sound by using a stethoscope, and this case is known as objective tinnitus.
Causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus affects people of all ages and has no real known cause, but it has been associated with exposure to noise:
The causes of Tinnitus vary according to the variety of different harmful subjects such as a loud noise, explosion or even a shotgun blast, an ear infection, a head injury, or from a disease.
1- Exposure to loud sounds
The most common cause is a prolonged exposure to loud sounds like music from boom boxes, construction equipment, heavy equipment, and other objects that produce a loud sound as firearms.
2- Ear disorders
As described, it is also a symptom of other ear disorders, including blocked Eustachian tube, Meniere’s disease, hearing loss, damage caused by drugs such as some antibiotics, and tumors of the ear.
It can also exist in patients with specific disorders such as hypothyroidism, cardiovascular disorders, and anemia.
Stress seems to increase the symptoms of Tinnitus. People that are under stress for long period have a “ringing in the ears”. However, This condition is temporary and go away as soon as the stress is relieved.
Allergic reactions to some foods and drinks may cause a temporary Tinnitus in some people. These foods include red wine, chocolate, and Even artificial sweetener.
Otosclerosis is another condition that can cause this disorder. In this condition, the bony growth around the middle ear ossifies (grow abnormally)of the bones in the middle ear. This case is more common in females.
6- presbycusis (Age-related hearing loss)
Many old people have a bad hearing related to their age, usually starting around age 60. It also causes tinnitus.
7- Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder
Tinnitus may be an early indicator of Meniere’s disease. This condition is due to abnormal inner ear fluid pressure.
8- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
It is the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears that connect the lower jaw to the upper jaw. Any Problems with the temporomandibular joint can cause tinnitus.
9- Head and neck injuries
Head and neck injuries such as trauma can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Commonly, these injuries cause tinnitus in only one ear.
10- Acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma)
It is a benign tumor develops on the vestibulocochlear nerve, a cranial nerve runs from your brain to your inner ear and controls balance and hearing. Also, this condition affects only one ear.
11- Blood vessel disorders cause pulsatile tinnitus in rare conditions:
• Atherosclerosis. In Old ages and cases characterized by a buildup of cholesterol and other deposits in the blood vessels causes them to lose their elasticity including the major vessels of the middle and inner ear. An absence of elasticity makes the walls of blood vessels hard and unable to flex or expand slightly with each heartbeat.
This causes blood flow to become more forceful, making it easier for your ear to detect the beats.
• High blood pressure (Hypertension) and hypertension causing factors such as stress, alcohol, and caffeine. These factors can make tinnitus more noticeable and permanent.
• This type of tinnitus generally occurs in only one ear.
The Symptoms of Tinnitus
Also, there are a variety of symptoms, according to the variety of causes. These symptoms include
1- An intermittent or continuous noise in the ears, such as ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, or whistling.
2- There are two kinds of tinnitus.
• Subjective tinnitus (the most common type). The patient only can hear this type. Problems in the external, middle or inner ear can cause this type of tinnitus. It also can be caused by problems with the auditory or auditory pathways.
• Objective tinnitus. In this type, the doctor can hear when he or she does an examination. However, This rare type of tinnitus may be as a result of a blood vessel problems, Otosclerosis or muscle contractions.
When to call a doctor
1- When You have any symptoms of tinnitus, it could be a symptom of a health condition. It may be an early indicator of a different condition such as high blood pressure or an hypothyroidism, Acoustic neuroma,… etc
2- If The noise is accompanied by dizziness or pain from the ear, these may be signs of an ear infection, Meniere’s disease or a neurological problem.
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