What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ears, even though there is no external sound present. Tinnitus can also cause several other phantom sounds such as:
What are the causes?
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of health conditions, but there is no exact known reason as to why it happens. However, tinnitus is often associated with:
- Hearing loss
- Ear damage due to repeated exposure of loud noises
- Ear canal blockage or ear infections
- Head or neck injuries that damage the nerves that signal sounds to the brain
- Meniere's disease
What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of tinnitus can vary from person to person. Often, people may hear phantom sounds in one ear or both. Sounds may be soft, loud, high, or low pitched. Symptoms of tinnitus may either be present at all times or may come and go. Subjective tinnitus means that only you can hear the sound.
Objective Tinnitus (Pulsatile Tinnitus)
Unlike subjective tinnitus, objective tinnitus is rarer, and often has an identifiable cause and is treatable. Pulsatile tinnitus is one of the most common forms of objective tinnitus, and the sound may pulsate rhythmically, often in time with your heart beat. In such cases, the specialist may be able to hear the sound with a stethoscope.
How is it diagnosed?
The specialist will order a series of tests to help identify the cause of your tinnitus.
Audiometry test (hearing test)
Audiometry is a hearing test that requires you to sit in a soundproof room. You will be wearing a set of headphones that transmit specific sounds into one ear at a time. When the sound is heard, you will need to press a button to indicate that you can hear.
It is a test to check the pressure of the middle ear cavity to ensure that the middle ear is working well. A device with an earphone tip is placed in the ear and a small suction will be felt during the process.
The specialist may order imaging test such as MRI and CT scans to further investigate any underlying causes of your tinnitus.
What are the treatments?
Tinnitus caused by earwax can be relieved when the earwax blockage is removed. The doctor may use a suction to remove the impacted wax or prescribe eardrops to soften the earwax or easy removal.
A tinnitus masker is a hearing aid device use to generate and emit broad or narrow band noise at low level, to mask the presence of tinnitus.
Medication and supplements
The specialist may prescribe medication and supplement to help promote blood circulation to the inner ear.
How can I treat tinnitus at home?
Use of hearing protection
Loud noises can damage the nerves in the ear, causing tinnitus and hearing loss. If your environment is loud and noisy, the use of hearing protection can help reduce the noise level and protect your hearing.
Use of white noise
White noise such as fan blowing, low static radio sounds or rain drops can help distract you from the sounds of tinnitus.
Limit alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
These substances stimulate the brain and affect blood flood, contributing to tinnitus. Additionally, if tinnitus is affecting your sleep, the use of these substances may further prevent you from sleeping.
Healthy sleep cycle
Tinnitus can be disruptive and affect your sleep. However, having a healthy sleep cycle may help to regulate your sleep pattern, making it easier to fall asleep.
Make An Appointment
Make an appointment or contact the ENT clinic to consult an ENT Specialist about your condition. To make an appointment, select "Specialist Appointment". Under Specialist Appointment Details, select "Ear, Nose & Throat".