Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus ( /tɪˈnaɪtəs/ or /ˈtɪnɪtəs/; from the Latin word tinnītus meaning "ringing") is the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound.


Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes: neurological damage (multiple sclerosis), ear infections, oxidative stress.


[1] foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain, wax build-up and exposure to loud sounds. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may cause tinnitus as well. In-ear earphones, whose sound enters directly into the ear canal without any opportunity to be deflected or absorbed elsewhere, are a common cause of tinnitus when volume is set beyond moderate levels.


Tinnitus may be an accompaniment of sensorineural hearing loss or congenital hearing loss, or it may be observed as a side effect of certain medications. However, the most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss.


As tinnitus is usually a subjective phenomenon, it is difficult to measure using objective tests, such as by comparison with noise of known frequency and intensity, as in an audiometric test. The condition is often rated clinically on a simple scale from "slight" to "catastrophic" according to the practical difficulties it imposes, such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.


[2] Tinnitus is common: about 20% of people between 55 and 65 years old report symptoms on a general health questionnaire, and 11.8% on more detailed tinnitus-specific questionnaires.[3]


From Wikipedia,

the free encyclopedia


Tinnitus is the perception of a sound that has no external source. Some of the more common sounds reported are ringing, humming, buzzing, and cricket-like. It can be constant or intermittent and is heard in one ear, both ears or in the head. Tinnitus can originate in the middle ear (behind the eardrum) or in the sensorineural auditory system.

Tinnitus is usually accompanied by hearing loss, and sometimes accompanied by loudness hyperacusis (when moderately loud sounds are perceived as very loud). Some 50 million adults suffer from tinnitus (it can also affect children). For 12 million, the problem is severe enough that it impacts their everyday life. Because tinnitus can be a symptom of a more serious disorder, it is important to have an appropriate health evaluation, from an audiologist or physician.


The Impact of Tinnitus

Tinnitus affects people differently. The most common areas in which tinnitus has a direct influence are:

  1. 1.Thoughts and emotions. Some are annoyed, bothered, depressed, anxious or angry about their tinnitus. They think and focus on their tinnitus often.

  2. 2.Hearing. In some, the sound of the tinnitus competes with or masks speech or environmental sound perception.

  3. 3.Sleep. Many tinnitus sufferers report that their tinnitus interferes with them getting to sleep. It can also make it more difficult to get back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night.

  4. 4.Concentration. Some tinnitus sufferers report that they have difficulty focusing on a task because of their tinnitus. This might include reading a book or the newspaper.



The Treatment of Tinnitus

For most tinnitus sufferers, there is no cure. There is no pill or surgery that has been shown to eliminate tinnitus in scientific studies that have been replicated and accepted by the healthcare community.

There are some important exceptions to this. Some forms of tinnitus, particularly middle-ear tinnitus, can be treated. Sometimes a medication can cause tinnitus, and stopping or changing medications can eliminate the tinnitus (check with whoever prescribed the medication).

CBS Talk on Tinnitus

host Al Cole interviews

Allen W. Rohe, Au.D, FAAA


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