Tinnitus Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Tinnitus is characterized by ringing or tingling in the ears and it’s common among men and women over the age of 50. However, it isn’t strictly a medical condition and more of a symptom signifying circulatory system disorder, hearing loss or another ear injury.
The most common symptoms are phantom noises, which can be hissing, clicking, roaring, buzzing or ringing, and the pitch can be a high squealing noise or low, and it may manifest in one or both ears. The sounds may come and go or be a constant presence.
There are several possible causes, and for many people over 60, tinnitus occurs due to old age. However, even young people can suffer from this condition due to exposure to loud noises like music players, concerts, fireworks and explosions.
Earwax blockage also causes tinnitus. Earwax is important because it protects the ear from bacteria by slowing its growth and trapping dirt. However, excessive buildup of earwax causes it to harden, leading to hearing loss or irritation.
Besides earwax blockage, stiffening of ear bones in the middle ear can precipitate tinnitus and other hearing problems. This condition is characterized by unusual bone growth in the ears and is usually inherited.
Tinnitus can be short or long term, and if the condition is brought about by exposure to loud noise, simply avoiding it should cause the symptoms to dissipate. However, long term exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage.
If you’re exposed to loud noises, you run the risk of developing tinnitus, so rather than wait for the condition to manifest, take preventive measures. If you’re 60 years old or nearing that age, set up an appointment with an ENT specialist to have your ears examined.
If the symptoms refuse to go away, you need to see an ENT specialist so the proper ENT services and treatment can be administered. The ENT will evaluate your case and prescribe treatment according to the severity, and for mild cases, white noise machines, hearing aids or masking devices may be used. What all these devices do is produce white noises to counter the irritating sounds produced by tinnitus. While these devices have a similar purpose, they work in different ways, so ask the ENT specialist which one id most appropriate for your condition.
An ENT might also offer tinnitus retraining, whereby a device is worn to mask the frequencies that tinnitus makes. Over time you’ll get used to the sounds and learn to ignore them. Only in severe cases will an ENT prescribe tricyclic antidepressants like nortriptyline or amitriptyline. While these medications have been proven effective for severe tinnitus, there are potential side effects like blurred vision, dry mouth and constipation. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your ENT specialist for proper ENT services and treatment.
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