What Is Tinnitus
Tinnitus, also commonly known as “ringing in the ears”, is the perception of sound in the absence of an external source. Commonly heard noises include ringing, buzzing, humming, whistling, chirping, clicking or even screeching sounds.
While the majority of the patients reported hearing 1 noise, some patients may hear more than 2 or 3 types of sounds. The noise may be heard in one ear or both at a time, or in some cases, the noise moves around like a stereo-effect. The sounds heard may differ in terms of pitch and volume; and may be constant or intermittent. It has been observed that patients who reported hearing constant high-pitch noises tend to find it harder to cope with their condition.
Tinnitus can also be classified as objective or subjective. Subjective tinnitus refers to sounds that are only perceived or heard by you. Objective tinnitus refers to sounds that can also be heard by others, e.g. by using with a sensitive microphone placed in the patient’s ear. This can be due to muscle spasm around the middle ear or pulsate tinnitus.
Even though tinnitus sufferers often feel unjust, isolated and misunderstood, you must realise you are not alone. In fact, tinnitus is more common than you thought. Almost everyone suffers from “ringing in the ear” at some point in time but for most people it goes away relatively quickly. However, if you are among the group who found that the noise never goes away and your tinnitus is increasing in severity, you will need to know more in fighting against tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus in statistics?
As many as 50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus to various degrees. Of these, about 16 million people are seeking medical attention and about 2 million sufferers found the tinnitus noises so debilitating that they can no longer function normally in their daily life.
What is Tinnitus Caused By?
Tinnitus may be triggered by physical damage to the cochlea (auditory section of the inner ear), hair-like receptors (known as cilia in the inner ear) or the nerves connecting the ear and brain. This may be a result of exposure to loud noises or physical injury/trauma to the head or neck.
However, tinnitus is often a symptom rather than a disease in itself. To effectively treat your tinnitus, it is vital that you discuss your particular tinnitus situation with a qualified health professional to diagnose the underlying causes of your tinnitus. Do check out our page on Tinnitus Causes.
What is Tinnitus Not?
Tinnitus is NOT just a problem to your auditory system. It is not simply a physical ailment as patients often cite a myriad of emotional responses. While the exact physiological causes of tinnitus are still not known, research has shown that severe tinnitus involves more than one of your body’s systems, namely the auditory system, the limbic system (also known as the brain’s emotional centre and also where your body’s flight or fight response is triggered) and the central nervous system. This is why the responses of tinnitus patients towards the tinnitus noise can range from being mildly irritated to totally unbearable.
Tip: Your attitude and perception matters.
Be positive! Do not create negative perception towards your tinnitus. If your subconscious mind perceives the tinnitus noise with distress or negative emotion, your conscious mind and body would likely react towards tinnitus as a threat. By evoking a fight or flight response all too often, this becomes draining to you mentally, physically and emotionally. Moreover, once this negative association is being established in your mind, a bad memory loop is created and this may cause the tinnitus noise you hear to re-run in your brain (not the ear)! This is often the case of severe tinnitus sufferers. On the other hand, you will be able to “habituate” it and notice the noise less if you are able to change your perception towards the tinnitus noise more positively or neutral.
Tinnitus is NOT incurable. You do not have to ‘live with it’. Yes, it is true that there is no cure in the form of prescribed drugs. Some conventional medications are found to work for some patients but none have provided widespread relief and surgeries are often unnecessary. But this is NOT going to stop you from taking an active role in quietening the noise in your head. There are natural and holistic treatment strategies available to you to manage and even eliminate the tinnitus noises forever!
Suggestion: Line up Support
Do not withdraw from your friends and family. They are the support you will need in your fight against tinnitus. You can also find a support group through organisations, such as American Tinnitus Association (ATA), where you can share coping strategies and find companionship among fellow patients and volunteers. Also, do continue to seek reliable and updated information.
Find out more…
Hopefully you’ve learnt more about what is tinnitus and found the tips and suggestions I’ve provided on this page to be useful. However, what I recommend you do now is to go and check out ATA’s website to learn about their support group and the type of research they are spearheading.
I also highly recommend you to check out Thomas Coleman’s Tinnitus Miracle to find out more on how our hearing works, what exactly tinnitus is and the emotional aspect of tinnitus.
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