Tinnitus. Causes, symptoms and solutions

Tinnitus. Causes, symptoms and solutions

Tinnitus

While tinnitus affects roughly 15% of Americans, let alone an ever-growing number of adults in India, most people still don’t know much about it. That’s why Audientes is here to go with you on this journey as we answer all the essential questions out there. Let’s get started! 

What is ‘ear’ tinnitus?

Ever been to an earsplitting music concert and had your ears ringing in the aftermath? While just temporary, this is what’s known as tinnitus.

Plain and simple, ear tinnitus is the sensation of ringing or other noise in one or both ears. The noise that individuals with tinnitus hear isn’t an external sound, and other people normally can’t hear it. While it is not a disease, it is often directly linked to hearing loss and affects a staggering 15-20% of the world’s population—an amount roughly equivalent to the total population of India.

While there’s not yet an overall proven cure, tinnitus treatments are ever-improving through more accessible medical tinnitus remedies, hearing aids, and cutting-edge digital technology.

Common symptoms

Most people describe it as a “ringing” of the ears, but tinnitus actually involves a variety of phantom sounds and doesn’t always fade out after a couple days. Other noises people experience include:

  • Buzzing
  • Humming
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Hissing
  • Screeching

These sounds can be low pitched or high pitched. They can be loud or soft in volume. They can be ever-present, or they can come and go. For some patients, the noise is so loud that it proves difficult for them to focus or hear external sounds.

Whatever the case, it’s important to take notice of all the exact symptoms to get better results and treatment from any upcoming tinnitus test.

Diagnosing tinnitus

Let’s start with the basics. In all, there are two types:

Subjective Tinnitus: this type makes up the vast majority of patients, accounting for over 99% of all reported cases. With subjective tinnitus, noises are only perceivable to the specific patient.

Objective Tinnitus: this form is extremely rare with less than 1% of all tinnitus cases. Those with this type have head or ear noises that are not only audible to the patient but also other people (most often, the medical professional conducting tests on you).

While ear tinnitus has many causes, the world of science is getting better at connecting certain sounds with their specific roots. Here are a few that can help direct your diagnosis:

  • High-pitch ringing: As the most common tinnitus sound, there are a few potential causes such as hearing loss, loud noise exposure and even medications.
  • Low-frequency ringing: This sound may be linked to blocked ear canals, abnormal growth of inner ear bones (known as otosclerosis), or Meniere’s disease which brings about progressive deafness.
  • Clicking: This form of tinnitus is often caused by muscle contractions in and around the ear.
  • Pulsing, rushing or humming: These noises are mostly from blood vessel causes like high blood pressure. They can also be noticed while exercising or changing body positions. 

For any upcoming tinnitus test, these fundamentals can help guide your understanding of this dynamic condition going forward.

Causes: from concerts to Covid-19

Sustained exposure to loud noise is the most common cause of tinnitus, but it’s also linked to a number of underlying conditions such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. Let’s take a quick look at some of these conditions:

  • Natural aging process: The long-term decline of various parts of the middle and inner ear is one of tinnitus’ main causes.
  • Meniere’s disease and otosclerosis: As mentioned earlier, these are both ear conditions in which people lose their hearing and can include tinnitus.
  • Ear blockage or infection: The buildup of earwax, fluid, or dirt can cause the ear canal to become blocked, sometimes resulting in tinnitus.
  • Neck, head and jaw damage: Problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and other parts from the neck upwards can potentially interfere with nerves and brain activity linked to hearing.
  • Certain medications: From aspirin to antibiotics, over 200 drugs claim tinnitus as a potential side effect when you start or stop taking them.

Most recently, early research has found that there could even be a correlation between Covid-19 and tinnitus as well as sudden hearing loss. The studies are far from conclusive, but it’s important to be mindful of the potentially far-reaching effects that continue to be discovered from this global pandemic.

Are there tinnitus tests or remedies available from home?

The best tinnitus remedies are by either treating the underlying cause or reducing the noise through other treatments, such as hearing aids, that make tinnitus less audible. To take these steps, it’s important that you talk to your doctor. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do at home to help prevent or alleviate tinnitus symptoms:

  1. Protect your ears. Stay away from loud activities and, if that’s not possible, use high-decibel ear protection including earmuffs and ear plugs. Whether it’s loud music in your headphones or working with loud machinery, these are known to irritate and damage the naked ear. This is a simple step that everyone can take to protect their ears today and in the future.
  2. Stay healthy. From stress and fatigue to alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine, there are many health choices that can make tinnitus worse for some people. Try eliminating one or more of these and experiment to see what helps in the short-term.

A digital approach to hearing aids and tinnitus treatment

Over two years into this pandemic, and Covid-19 continues to shock healthcare systems throughout the world. The over-inundation of hospitals from India to the United States has highlighted longstanding barriers of universal access and affordability—not just for this virus, but for all specialty care.

At Audientes, our primary focus has always been to make high-quality and affordable hearing aids available to the millions of people around the world who suffer from disabling tinnitus and hearing loss. With the restrictions from Covid-19, many people who needed a hearing aid simply were not able to visit a hearing clinic due to the potential risks to their health. Moreover, many people in remote areas of the world have never had access to quality audiologists. This shows the tremendous need for more do-it-yourself healthcare solutions that more effectively serve the public. 

Together with the intuitive and user-friendly phone app we’re pioneering to help ease symptoms of tinnitus, our innovative self-fitting hearing aids bring a trustworthy digital alternative to traditional healthcare services. Hearing aids have long succeeded in serving people who suffer from tinnitus, but too often they’ve demanded a long and expensive purchasing process. Now for the first time, people can easily access our self-guided and professional hearing tests from the comfort of their homes.

In a world reshaped by Covid-19, the experts at Audientes are more determined than ever to bring industry-leading hearing aids and digital solutions to meet your specific needs.