To begin understanding what causes tinnitus, it helps to know that tinnitus is not actually a disorder in and of itself. Rather, it is a symptom of something else amiss which may arise from various causes. Often, a number of conditions combined is what causes tinnitus.
Common Tinnitus Causes:
- Damage to the inner ear from exposure to very loud sound causes tinnitus more often than any other single factor today.
Sinusitis, due to the interconnection of ear, nose, and throat, often causes tinnitus ear noise.
- Ear infections or inner ear disorders that put stress on the ear system can also cause tinnitus symptoms.
- Stress can cause tinnitus, and it can aggravate tinnitus even if other conditions are giving rise to the symptoms in the first place.
- Depression, which can affect the body much like stress, is sometimes blamed when no other factor that causes tinnitus can be identified.
- High blood pressure is a readily identifiable cause of tinnitus that can usually be resolved easily with diet or medication.
- Impacted ear wax causes tinnitus, and it is one of the easiest conditions to identify and treat.
Certain medications are also among the common tinnitus causes, especially antibiotics and aspirin products. Because many various conditions can engender tinnitus, it can be hard to determine what causes tinnitus in every case. Along those lines, tinnitus symptoms are commonly classified without a known cause or idiopathic. However, that is no reason for despair. All of this just indicates why the holistic approach is so successful for eliminating tinnitus.
Other Tinnitus Causes:
- Atherosclerosis, narrowing of the arteries by buildup of plaque, causes tinnitus with the constricted blow flow around the head and neck.
- Benign intracranial hypertension, pressure in the brain without the presence of a tumor, can engender tinnitus. It is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50.
- Ear nerve damage, often due to viral infection, causes tinnitus for some people. Meniere’s disease frequently is accompanied by tinnitus symptoms. It is related to a host of inner ear disorders, believed to be triggered by an imbalance of inner ear fluid pressure.
- Glomus tumor, a tangling and bunching of blood vessels and tissues in the ear vicinity, can engender tinnitus.
- Intracranial vascular lesions, which can include aneurisms and arteriovenous malformations, can induce abnormal ear noise, because of disrupted blood flow.
- Acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor, can cause tinnitus.
The causes listed here are among the more common conditions that engender tinnitus, but they are far from being the only ones. Many other conditions or combination of conditions can contribute to a case of tinnitus.
Because of the many causal possibilities that can lead to tinnitus, the best method for getting to the cause or causes of a case is the holistic, step-by-step approach geared toward uncovering those causes.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A constant annoying ringing in the ears – called tinnitus – didn’t go away when researchers tried zapping patients’ heads with magnetic waves in a recent study.
The researchers still think magnetic therapy could work, if they can find the right part of the brain to apply it to.
“We haven’t found the sweet spot yet,” said Dr. Jay Piccirillo, the lead author of the study and a professor of ear, nose and throat surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri.
Tinnitus is caused by a “phantom” sound, thought to be the result of mis-wired brain cells.
The condition is common. One study estimated that 50 million Americans experience chronic ringing in their ears at some point in their lives.
Piccirillo said most people are not bothered by the ringing. A very small fraction of people are crippled by the sound, however. Some become depressed, or even suicidal.
Doctors who treated the patients in the current study generated magnetic waves outside each person’s head that traveled through the skull into the brain; the waves would temporarily rewire the brain’s circuits. Several studies in Europe have found that sessions of such magnetic therapy can help relieve ear ringing.
In the United States, sending magnetic waves to the brain is approved for use in patients with depression, but it is only experimental for tinnitus.
Piccirillo and his colleagues recruited 14 patients who were severely bothered by the ringing in their ears.
All of them received 10 treatments with a magnet over a 2-week period, and another 10 sessions over another 2 weeks using a fake magnet. The order of the 2-week periods was flipped in half of the patients.
After the treatments, the ringing was no better than before.
And when Piccirillo’s team asked participants which treatment they thought they received first – the real magnet or the fake magnet – the answers were right only half the time – a result just as good as chance.
Piccirillo told Reuters Health he’s not giving up on magnetic therapy. “There’s no doubt these magnets work to reorganize brain connections. But we don’t know where to put the magnet, and for how long.”
In this study, the magnet was placed near the patients’ left ear, by the part of the brain that processes sound.
Dr. Robert Folmer, a professor of ear, nose and throat surgery at the Oregon Health and Science University, reviewed the study for Reuters Health.
Folmer, who was not involved in the research, suggested some reasons that could explain why Piccirillo’s study didn’t work, when previous studies have successfully used magnets to relieve ear ringing.
Two weeks of treatment could be too brief to allow the brain to correct the ringing, he said. And perhaps the left side of the skull is not the correct place to put the magnetic coil in every patient.
“Mostly I was kind of surprised to see how many people were in this study,” Folmer said. Fourteen is “a very small number of people.”
Piccirillo said his team had planned to include 55 people, but when they realized the treatment wasn’t working they decided to stop.
“It’s extremely unlikely that you would have seen an effect if we had continued the study,” Piccirillo said.
He agreed that the treatment might have been too short. His group is starting a new experiment with 4 weeks of treatments instead of 2 weeks.
Folmer too is soon starting a study of magnetic therapy, in 160 patients with tinnitus. His group will apply the magnet to the left side of the head in some patients, and the right side in others.
The appeal of magnetic therapy is that it is expected to actually reduce the ringing in people’s ears.
Currently, the available treatments – such as talk therapy and antidepressant medications – don’t get rid of the noise; they only help people cope with it.
Piccirillo’s federally-funded study is published in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
Source: Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, March 2011.
A professor at West Texas A&M University may have discovered a way to help permanently decrease or remove tinnitus, a condition that causes a constant, and often irritating, ringing in the ears.
The American Tinnitus Association reports that tinnitus affects up to 50 million Americans. The causes of the condition vary but include hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, serious illnesses and consumption of substances such as nicotine, caffeine and medicine.
Leslie Dalton, a professor at WT’s speech and hearing clinic, has spent the past 12 years developing tinnitus treatment mostly delivered through the use of a chip, software and large headphones. The chip sends a quiet and pre-programmed sound to the headphones, changing the channels sound takes to reach the brain.
Dalton, in his third year at WT, likens the process to reorganizing roads to change the way a vehicle reaches a destination. Whatever conditions lead to tinnitus affect the brain’s normal functions, causing the ringing sound, he said.
“It causes the brain to reprocess in the wrong place,” he said. “We return the hearing so that the normal part of the brain takes over.”
Dalton has seen some success with his work.
Gretchen Mercer, who took Dalton’s treatment a few times during the past year, said the method completely removed her tinnitus whenever she put on the headphones.
“The first time I put on the headphones, my whole body just relaxed,” she said. “You hear nothing. It totally erases the tinnitus.”
One of the goals with the tinnitus research is to create a prototype that can be distributed to local audiology clinics before the end of the summer, said Paige Brittain, owner of Headsets Inc., an Amarillo business that sells aviation and military headsets.
About a year ago, Brittain and Dalton helped start up another company, Dichonics Inc., with plans to later manufacture personal devices that can deliver the sound treatment.
“We will continue to improve the product,” Brittain said. “But right now, we’re just trying to put it together and put it in the hands of specialists.”
While the treatment Dalton performs at WT provides no long-term fix for tinnitus, he said he thinks that giving patients daily access to a device at home would let them train their brains into ignoring the condition.
“Once we get to nano-technology, we can turn into a kind of hearing aid,” he said.
While millions of Americans suffer from tinnitus, many more do not report the condition, said Diana Wise-McPherson, an Amarillo audiologist. She said most of her patients suffer from the condition.
“From past numbers I’ve heard, about half of the world’s population has some kind of head noise,” she said. “Now whether it bothers their life, that’s another thing.”
Treatments to relieve tinnitus exist, but none of them decrease or remove the condition, she said. Existing treatments include acupuncture and massage therapy, she said.
“People do all kinds of things, but there’s nothing scientifically proven on the market that alleviates tinnitus,” she said.
Other treatments include masking the tinnitus with other sounds or sending electricity into the ear’s cochlea, Dalton said.
“But the patient still hears something,” he said.
Mercer said she developed tinnitus about two years after contracting the West Nile virus in 2004. The virus caused some hearing loss, she said.
“In my experience, it can debilitating,” she said. “It can drive you insane. It’s a constant humming in your head. Sometimes, you can ignore it, but there are times when it’s just loud and it gets worse.”
It’s quite disappointing to know that until today there is no guaranteed medical cure for ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus. People with tinnitus tried various over-the-counter remedies, herbs, homeopathy and tinnitus home remedies to seek relief from their tinnitus symptoms. The problem with OTC medications is the side effects they cause, such as nausea, vertigo, constipation, loss of control, exhaustion.
Frustrated sufferers may also seek relief from herbal remedies, such as Gingko biloba or black cohosh that are claimed to improve blood circulation in the upper body and thus lessen the severity of tinnitus. However, tinnitus herbal remedies are not treating the condition at its root cause, but merely conferring minor relief.
Of late, many tinnitus sufferers find homeopathic remedies to be effective in treating their condition. However, not every tinnitus patient find permanent relief through homeopathy. The only way that is left is tinnitus home remedies to bank upon.
Actually, tinnitus home remedies can only work well if they are addressing the underlying causes of tinnitus. To achieve this, you have to find out what is causing your tinnitus. The causative factor might be a single factor or multiple co-existing problems that lead to tinnitus. Some of the important factors leading to tinnitus are:
- Frequent exposure to loud noises, such as noise occurring at steel stamping or forging units, listening to MP3 player or iPod on high levels of volume.
- Microscopic damages on the auditory nerves.
- Infection in the middle ear, build up of earwax.
- Inadequate blood supply in the upper body.
- Certain jawbone joint problems.
- Long-term use of certain medications, e.g. NSAIDs and anti-cancer drugs.
- Allergies, growths or tumors within the ear region.
Tinnitus home remedies that have been used to relieve tinnitus symptoms include:
- Gingko biloba – to improve blood circulation in the head and neck region, provides relief to the condition in a more positive way.
- Goldenseal, hawthorn, myrrh gum and burdock root are several commonly used herbal remedies for tinnitus sufferers.
- Co-enzyme Q10, taken at a dose of 300 mg daily, also helps improve the upper body blood circulation and strengthening the immune system, which in turn provide relief to tinnitus.
Home remedies for tinnitus work very well, provided they are used concomitantly with holistic treatments. Again, it will be difficult to experience appreciable tinnitus relief if the true cause of the condition is not addressed. The home remedies for tinnitus do dampen the symptoms for a short while, but symptoms will reappear once the remedy is taken off.
Holistic remedies take a different approach: they treat the body as a whole, and not so much on treating the symptoms of tinnitus alone. Symptoms are mere manifestation of the condition. Holistic remedies go deeper to identify the root causes of tinnitus and then specify the appropriate range of treatment, which may include changing diet and lifestyle, using acupuncture and acupressure.
Besides tinnitus home remedies there are also natural tinnitus remedies to help you banish tinnitus without the use of drugs.
The involvement of Tinnitus Hypnosis and Tinnitus Hypnotherapy in the battle to help aleviate tinnitus symptoms has long been accepted as the most effective of the alternative treatments available to the tinnitus sufferer. The positive effect of tinnitus hypnosis is particularly successful where stress is a factor in producing or exacerbating the symptoms of tinnitus. Hypnotherapy has been used successfully to treat people afflicted with both anxiety and stress for a very long time now.
Tinnitus hypnosis treatment seeks to diminish or negate the effects of tinnitus rather than to treat the tinnitus itself. The tinnitus hypnosis therapist sets out to remove the emotional reaction to the sounds of tinnitus and substitute it with stimuli other than the head noises. The effect of this is to place the patient into a more relaxed state of mind which in turn dilutes the effects of stress. A spiral of stress causing tinnitus to increase and worsening tinnitus causing greater stress is a very typical scenario for tinnitus sufferers.
Tinnitus hypnosis can start to stop this damaging spiral in very short order bringing some much needed calm to the situation. Tinnitus hypnosis has the particular advantage that it can be really effective practiced at home using pre-recorded material. It has been seen in studies carried out by therapists, that reduction in perceived tinnitus noise averages between 60 and 75 per cent using tinnitus hypnosis from recorded materials at home. With such a high level of success there is a good argument for purchasing a tinnitus reduction program using self hypnosis techniques and making the effort to put aside an hour or so each day to spend to listening to it.
The additional benefit of consistent use of tinnitus hypnosis at home is that stress levels are cut resulting in a beneficial general relaxation. A tinnitus reduction program which includes an element of self hypnosis is without doubt a valuable asset for all tinnitus sufferers. Hypnotherapy is all too often still viewed, quite unjustifiably, with suspicion and this has not been helped by the often negative perception given to it by the media. Too frequently tv shows have used an apparent hypnosis of individuals from an audience to make a spectacle of themselves. As a result the common perception of hypnotherapy is an ill informed one, as in truth this portrayal of hypnotherapy and hypnosis is far from reality.
Tinnitus hypnosis is an approach to this debilitating condition that many doctors and therapists have used with great success for people who have failed to respond to other treatments. Tinnitus hypnotherapy quite rightly ranks very highly in the list of alternative treatments available for tinnitus today. Tinnitus hypnosis represents an important path towards your own tinnitus liberation.
Andrew Goodwin’s definition of his tinnitus is frank.
“It’s a noise I can’t identify which freaks me out.”
He first began to hear a weird, piercing noise in his ears aged 31. On the same day in 2002, Andrew became profoundly deaf.
It was a terrifying and lonely time for him. Eighteen months later he discovered hearing aids which were powerful enough to help him hear again, but the tinnitus remained.
The noise he hears, but which no one else can, takes on a different character depending on how Andrew is feeling.
“When I am stressed it sounds like wind rushing through the trees. But at night after a long day it can be sinister. It sounds like there are voices, whispering…”
“Initially I didn’t know what it was or where it was coming from. I thought I was going mad,” he says.
Five million people in the UK are thought to live with tinnitus, but not all suffer from hearing loss as well.
The British Tinnitus Association says that about 10% of the UK adult population have mild tinnitus all the time and, in up to 1% of adults, this may affect their quality of life.
Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any actual, corresponding external sound and it can occur at any age – even in quite young children.
Although the precise cause of tinnitus is still not fully understood, experts say there are certain things which should be avoided.
The ear is an extremely sensitive organ which has to deal with a massive range of sound levels – from a whisper at 30 decibels to a busy bar at 80-90 dB and a noisy club at 100 dB or more.
This sort of noise level is thought to be “safe” for fewer than 30 minutes.
Conrad Jarvis was listening to music two years ago when he suddenly heard a “crackling” noise in his left ear.
He initially put it down to the new headphones he was wearing before he realised there had been a permanent change in his hearing.
At first he did not notice the tinnitus.
“It just came on… this high-pitched sound. It was constantly there, sometimes it changed in pitch. It did drive me crazy,” he says.
As a DJ who played everything from soul to R&B and house music, often at high volumes, Conrad thought his music career was finished.
But he was persuaded to have an operation and then use a hearing aid, which is now the only thing that quietens the tinnitus.
“After lots of hearing tests I realised my ear drum was damaged – so I just knew that was it for the rest of my life.”
He was very reluctant to wear a big, pink hearing aid – particularly as he is of Caribbean descent – but he managed to get a small, brown digital hearing aid which most of his friends mistake for a blue tooth device.
“I’ve got back my sense of balance on my left-hand side and the hearing aid has reduced the tinnitus dramatically,” Conrad says.
There are various treatments available which can help people deal with tinnitus. These include hearing aids, relaxation techniques to try to reduce anxiety levels and a bedside sound generator which produces the sound of rain, the ocean or birds to help induce sleep.
“For those seriously affected by tinnitus, psychological therapy in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy can be tried,” Dr Baguley says.
Andrew Goodwin took up the relaxation technique Tai Chi to help him deal with his tinnitus, which he found very successful.
“The breathing exercises helped me relax and that calmed down the tinnitus,” he says.
Stress and anxiety can also affect tinnitus levels, as Andrew testifies.
“If I get stressed, my tinnitus gets worse. After a long, tiring day, tinnitus is my way of telling me to slow down.”
Current research on tinnitus is focusing on drugs which could have affect the intensity of the tinnitus, and on the use of filtered music to reduce the sound of the tinnitus.
Research is also being carried out into how the activity of the brain can be influenced using magnetism or electrical stimulation. This research is at a more experimental stage, says Dr Baguley.
Andrew’s experience led him to become information and outreach advisor for Deafness Research UK. His job is to tour the country talking to people about how to look after their hearing and advising them on how to cope with hearing loss and tinnitus.
His advice on tinnitus is simple: “Talk to someone about it. There is help. You can’t cure it but you can make it manageable.”