Have you recently noticed a buzzing sound in your ears? Even though such a ringing noise is common after listening to loud music on your iPod, attending a concert, or cutting down trees with a chainsaw, it’s unusual if the noise persists for days.
Ear ringing is known as tinnitus, caused by hearing loss, earwax blockage, chronic medical conditions, head and neck traumas, and blood vessel disorders. This condition cannot be cured but treated with various remedies, such as hearing aids, sound-masking devices, medications, alternative therapy, etc.
This is everything you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is best described as ringing in the ears in the absence of external sounds. Ringing isn’t the only kind of phantom noise individuals hear, as tinnitus also appears in the form of buzzing, roaring, hissing, humming, whistling, and clicking. It can be temporary or permanent, affecting either one or both ears.
Additionally, the volume of this ringing noise can be low-pitched or extremely loud, hence affecting the hearing ability of individuals regarding external sounds. The intensity of these phantom noises varies in different parts of the day, but the change in intensity is best noticed at night.
Tinnitus can be of four types, depending on the cause and severity of this phantom ringing. For instance, subjective tinnitus is the most common variant, only heard by the person affected by it. This type is usually caused by an issue in any part of the ear, as well as a problem with some of the auditory nerves. Subjective tinnitus comes as suddenly as it disappears, lasting a minimum of three months to a maximum of twelve months.
In contrast, neurological tinnitus is triggered by Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder capable of causing hearing loss and vertigo. The following link, https://www.webmd.com/brain/what-is-meniere-disease#1 explains the causes, symptoms, and treatments for Meniere’s disease. The somatic type is an even worse form of this phantom noise, affecting the sensory system of individuals.
Objective tinnitus is the only variant of phantom noise, which can be heard by the doctor, not just the affected person. It’s generally triggered by vascular issues or muscle contractions that have to be treated in order for the ringing in the ears to disappear. It’s actually the only type of noise to be treated permanently.
There isn’t a single cause of tinnitus, as it might stem from a variety of health issues or any type of injury related to the auditory nerves. For example, it might be caused by hearing loss that comes with age, after a person turns sixty. Also, it’s commonly triggered by either short-term or long-term exposure to loud noises such as those produced by chainsaws or other equipment producing extremely loud sounds.
Long-term listening to music on music players such as iPods has the potential to cause ringing in the ears, eventually leading to hearing loss. However, short-term exposure to loud music can be damaging as well, such as going to a concert. This damage is rarely permanent, as the ringing sound disappears soon after coming home from the concert.
Moreover, earwax blockage is another potential cause of tinnitus, occurring in the event of excessive earwax accumulation. Although the role of earwax is to protect the ear canal, it shouldn’t be accumulated in excessive amounts in order not to cause eardrum irritation.
The ringing noise in the ears might be induced by certain medical conditions and disorders, such as Meniere’s disease or TMJ disorders. The latter refer to any type of issue related to the temporomandibular joint, where the jawbone gets in touch with the skull. Additionally, tinnitus might be caused by an acoustic neuroma, a tumor affecting the cranial nerve responsible for controlling hearing.
In addition, head and neck injuries are known for causing ringing in the ears due to the negative effect these traumas have on the inner ear. It’s one of the main symptoms of concussion, accompanied by sensitivity to sounds and dizziness. Generally, people experiencing tinnitus after a concussion avoid visiting noisy places due to their inability to separate background noises from the buzzing noise in their ears. The buzzing sound might disappear after a given period or become worse, depending on the severity of the trauma.
Multiple blood vessel disorders are related to ear ringing, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, irregular blood flow, and arteriovenous malformation. Due to cholesterol accumulation with age, blood vessels become less elastic, thus increasing the force of blood flow. The ears react to such a change in force by inducing a buzzing noise. Also, the consumption of food and drinks leading to hypertension increases the intensity of the hissing sound.
Although tinnitus cannot be permanently cured, there is a multitude of treatments capable of reducing its intensity. For instance, hearing aids have proven beneficial in individuals suffering from ear ringing as a sign of hearing loss. These tiny devices make external sounds louder, thus helping individuals notice the ringing noise less than before.
Furthermore, sound-masking devices are another popular remedy, designed to produce external sounds for the purpose of masking the ringing noise. Also, behavioral therapy has proven effective in the treatment of tinnitus, helping individuals accept the condition. It’s common for these patients to become anxious, depressed, or sleep-deprived due to the condition, which is why cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful in the fight with negative thoughts.
Some doctors prescribe antianxiety medications and antidepressants as part of the treatment. These drugs are believed to improve the everyday life of people making ear ringing less annoying. Physical exercise can also help in the treatment of this problem, as it reduces anxiety and depression, induces sleep, and improves stress management.
Those keen on alternative treatments can try hypnosis, acupuncture, and nutritional supplements. Vitamin B-12 and zinc are considered the most effective remedies.
If the buzzing sound in your ears persists for longer than a few days, visit a doctor and undergo a hearing test!