Tinnitus Awareness Week
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the perception of ringing in one or both ears in the absence of an external noise. It is a noise that is believed to be generated by the auditory system itself. The ringing can be difficult to localise, continuous or intermittent, and can occur from a few seconds, minutes to weeks and even years. It can be multi tonal and the pitch can vary. Living with Tinnitus can be extremely distressing to patients even leading to depression and anxiety in the worst cases.
Causes of Tinnitus
Most people can report having had brief episodes of tinnitus e.g. after a loud concert, and the brain will normally filter out this noise very quickly and it is of no further concern
In some people, tinnitus persists and can associated with a number of causes.
1) Some medications can cause tinnitus e.g. anti-inflammatories, antibiotics - to name a few.
2) Hearing loss
3) Ear disease e.g. Meniere’s disease or ear infections
4) Ear wax or a foreign body in the ear canal
5) Perforated ear drums, otosclerosis, high blood pressure
6) In some cases no cause is found
If you are getting recurrent or persistent symptoms, then you should see your GP. He will take a thorough history and examine the ears. Often simple measures will correct the problem.
If he is concerned or requires further investigations, a hearing test and tympanogram (middle ear pressure test) can help to pinpoint a diagnosis.
In some cases, you may need a specialist review to consider further tests/procedures e.g. MRI/CT scan or even an operation. This is extremely rare.
Often simple treatments can help such as removing ear wax or treating an infection. If hearing loss is discovered then hearing aids and tinnitus maskers can be used to help deal with symptoms.
Some cases are more complex and there is no quick fix. There are a variety of strategies for dealing with complex tinnitus. Sound enrichment, Tinnitus rehabilitation therapy, CBT and self-help strategies (relaxation, sleep, hygiene and reducing stress) can all be explored.
If you are suffering with Tinnitus, our ENT specialist GP, Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa, working alongside our resident hearing service – Aston Hearing, will be happy to discuss your symptoms and treatment options with you. Contact us to book.