Tinnitus is also know as “ringing in the ears.” Scientifically, it is the perception of sound in the absence of a corresponding external sound. Tinnitus is not a disease, but can be caused as a result of a wide range of underlying causes:
- Neurological damage (multiple sceloris)
- Abnormally loud sounds in the ear canal for even the briefest period (but usually with some duration)
- Ear infections
- Foreign objects in the ear
- Nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain
- Wax build-up
As tinnitus tends to be highly subjective depending on the person, it is difficult to measure. It is usually rated from slight to severe, according to the difficulties it may or may not impose – such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.
Tinnitus is a common condition. It occurs in about 20 percent of people between 55 and 65 years old. It is most often described as a ringing noise, but in some may take place as any of the following:
- a high-pitched whining
- electric buzzing
- “crickets”, “tree frogs”, or “locusts”
- even a pure, steady sound like that heard during a hearing test
Many types of treatment for tinnitus have been claimed with varying degrees of success, including:
- Gamma knife radiosurgery
- Shielding of cochlea by Teflon implant
- Botulinum toxin (palatal tremor)
- Clearing ear canal (in the case of an earwax plug)
- Using a neurostimulator
Drugs and nutrients may also help – again, with varying degrees of success, depending on the patient.
- Avoidance of caffeine, nicotine, or salt can reduce symptoms; however, tinnitus can also be induced by reducing the consumption of these items.
- Zinc supplementation (where serum zinc deficiency is present)
- Vitamin combinations
- Electrical stimulation
- Psychological cognitive behavioral therapy
For approximately 35 percent of cases involving acute acoustic trauma, patients report subsiding tinnitus at three months after the event. Approximately 10 percent of these case report the complete disappearance of tinnitus.