Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any corresponding external sound. This noise may be heard in one of your ears, in both of them or in the middle of your head or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location. The noise may be low, medium or high pitched. There may be a single noise or two or more noises. The noise may be continuous or it may come and go.
Dr Alam Hussain has specialised in treating tinnitus and has developed a multisystem treatment involving lifestyle, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture and sound enrichment, coupled with currently available devices, with great success.
So What causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease or an illness. It is a symptom generated within a person's own auditory pathways. It is not always the case that tinnitus is a result of disease. It may occur due to excessive noise exposure or an adverse reaction to medication.
The exact cause of tinnitus is still not fully understood and is being researched.
Conditions and illnesses which can lead to tinnitus include...
Blockages in your ear due to a build-up of wax, an ear infection or rarely, a tumour affecting the auditory nerve.
A perforated eardrum.
Medicines. Mostly aspirin, several types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, sedatives and antidepressants as well as quinine medications. In fact, tinnitus is cited as a potential side effect for about 200 prescription and non-prescription medicines.
The natural ageing process can result in a deterioration of the cochlea or other parts of your ear
Ménière's disease, which affects the inner part of your ear
Otosclerosis, a disease that results in stiffening of the small bones in your middle ear
Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, anaemia, allergies, thyroid disease and diabetes
Neck or jaw problem, such as Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
Injuries to your head and neck after a road traffic accident.
Who can get it?
It can affect anyone and all ages. About 10% of the population have mild tinnitus all the time. And 1% suffer enough to have their quality of life affected.
The noise can be amplified when you are stressed or anxious. If it appears suddenly your concentration and/or your sleep can be disturbed.
A noise in your ears such as ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing or whistling - the noise can be intermittent or continuous.
What commonly triggers it?
Tinnitus sometimes gets worse if you drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks, smoke cigarettes, or eat certain foods. Stress and fatigue increase tinnitus.
How can tinnitus be treated?
Lifestyle changes are very important. You should seriously consider...
Caffeine is one of the most common tinnitus aggravators and you should reduce it or stop completely. Coffee, tea, caffeinated cola and chocolate all contain significant amounts of caffeine.
Nicotine can also aggravate tinnitus, so you should do all you can to stop smoking.
Aspirin, especially high doses, can cause or make tinnitus worse. Fortunately it usually gets better when aspirin is stopped. If you are taking aspirin on the advice of your doctor, ask about a suitable alternative.
A low-salt diet can help, so avoid adding salt to your food and watch the sodium content of the foods you eat. This will also help lower your blood pressure.
Tinnitus prevention also includes obvious things such as limiting your exposure to loud noises. Vitamins such as A C E and Mg can help. Exercising regularly can also help by improving blood flow to your ear structures, while vitamin B-12 can help your body make the material that protects the inner ear's nerves. Good B-12 sources include dairy products, meat and egg.