Tinnitus is a common hearing disorder. It is caused by the perception of a sound through the ears when no external source of sound is present. The sound is often a ring, buzz, hum or whoosh. This is distinct from the auditory hallucinations of psychosis. These seem to be within the head and tend to be voices or other sounds. They tend not to be the sounds perceived in tinnitus.
Some musicians with tinnitus are able to name the note of the tone they can hear.
Some of the causes of tinnitus are avoidable, such as noise-induced hearing loss and when it is a side-effect of syringing the ears. Causes such as Menieres Disease and otosclerosis are not avoidable.
Tinnitus is sometimes caused by high blood pressure or narrowing of the arteries allowing people to hear blood rushing.
Syringing of the ears for impacted wax is no longer recommended. This is due the fact that it can cause permanent damage to the delicate sensory hair cells of the ear, resulting in permanent tinnitus. Softening of the wax with warm olive oil or drops from the chemist, followed by suctioning is now the recommended treatment.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a common cause of tinnitus which is easily preventable by wearing ear plugs. Molded fitted ear plugs are ideal because they are comfortable and highly effective at blocking noise from the ears. ZenPlugs from http://zenplugs.com/molded-earplugs/ are comfortable and antibacterial and last for years. They also prevent tinnitus.
HOW TO COPE WITH TINNITUS
The word tinnitus comes from the Latin origin meaning ringing. Many people describe it as a buzz, hum or whoosh however. There are many causes; some avoidable, some unavoidable. Here are a few tips on how to cope.
Masking. This is probably the commonest method of managing the distress of the condition. Many people put a radio on to cover up the noise. Alternatives include white noise machines, CDs and phone apps. White noise is the fuzzy sound of the television or radio when it's not tuned in. Some devices allow you to tune the noise to the tinnitus; pink noise for example.
Therapy. Psychotherapy and hypnotherapy can both be effective ways of managing the difficulties associated with chronic tinnitus. Regular contact with a counsellor or therapist can be highly therapeutic for individuals and can really help reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia caused by the condition.
Meditation. Regular focused mindfulness meditation can be very helpful when it comes to reducing the impact of tinnitus on the lives of individuals who are affected by the malady. It can be difficult to find the time to meditate daily although it is well worth getting up early to practice as the changes you will notice in your life are certainly worthwhile. An increase in perceived happiness, fulfilment and enjoyment of activities and working life can be easy to see after only a few weeks.
Prevent the condition through the judicious use of antinoise earplugs from ZenPlugs in order to defend against noise induced hearing loss. This is the main avoidable cause of tinnitus and is easily avoided with hearing protection.
Dr Toby Bateson