Tinnitus is Latin for “ringing,” (pronounced “tin-eye-tus”), the perception of sound in the ear, this sound not being generated by an outside source.
By some estimates, over 17% Americans have some form of Tinnitus – that’s almost 51 million people with Tinnitus!
7% of Tinnitus sufferers (about 21 million people) seek medical treatment each year.
For 3.5% of or the population (around 10.5 million people), Tinnitus affects their lives so severly, making most any activity (especially sleep) difficult at best.
As we age, more Americans develop Tinnitus. More than one-third of Tinnitus sufferers are 65 years and older.
Tinnitus is an equal-opportunity affliction, both men and women have Tinnitus in roughly equal numbers.
There are two forms of Tinnitus – Objective Tinnitus which makes a sound that can be heard by others and has a better chance of a medical cure. The other form of Tinnitus is called Subjective Tinnitus, which can only be heard by the sufferer and is the tinnitus that most of us know so well.
The classic sign of Tinnitus is a constant or occasional ringing, whooshing, buzzing, whistling, chirping, roaring, ticking or clicking noise in one or both ears.
These sounds sometines vary in volume, getting louder in a quiet setting. Noisy environments make Tinnitus noises less noticeable.
Sometimes other forms of hearing loss are associated with Tinnitus.
Causes of Objective Tinnitus
Muscle spasms that cause clicks or crackling in the inner ears.
Pulsatile Tinnitus is caused by altered blood flow or increased blood turbulence in veins in the ear, possibly from atherosclerosis or venous hum, and the noise is in rythmn with the beating of the sufferer’s heart. Rarely, Pulsatile Tinnitus can be a sign of more serious problems like carotid artery aneurysm or carotid artery dissection.
Eustachian tube abnormalities can also cause a form of Tinnitus, with a blowing sound or an ocean roar and/or clicking/whooshing noises as the main symptoms.
Causes of Subjective Tinnitus
80% of Subjective Tinnitus sufferers have other hearing disorders.
Almost all of those with Ménière’s disease have some form of Tinnitus.
Loud noises, constant or one-time noises, can be prime causes of Tinnitus.
Medicines, especially NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen) have been shown to cause Tinnitus.
Chemical imbalances like diabetes have been linked to cases of Tinnitus.
Studies have shown that up to 50% of those with clinically-diagnosed depression and/or anxiety disorders have symptoms of Tinnitus.
Constant and abnormal stress has been shown to cause Tinnitus and make it worse.
How Do I Treat My Tinnitus?
Unless there is an underlying, treatable medical condition, there is no cure for Tinnitus. Always see your physician first to see if medical help is possible.
It is possible to reduce the intensity of the sounds of Tinnitus through various non-medical and alternative treatments.
For the most part, the goal in treating Tinnitus is to help the sufferer get used to his or her level of tinnitus, and attempt to move the perception of the Tinnitus noises to the patient’s subconscious.
For those who have issues with depression, anxiety and excessive stress, the alternative and holistic medical practitioners have been instrumental in developing many new, non-medical and creative treatments to help Tinnitus sufferers regain control over their lives.