The Secrets of Tinnitus
WHAT IS TINNITUS?
Tinnitus is the name for when you hear noise in your ears or head, but it doesn’t come from an outside sound. It is a very common problem. People with tinnitus usually hear ringing, buzzing, or whistling sounds.
WHY DOES TINNITUS HAPPEN?
Tinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom of a problem with your hearing system. The problem can be anywhere from your ears to your brain. Different people experience tinnitus differently.
Many things can cause tinnitus, and we don’t fully understand them all yet. Causes can include:
- loud music or noise
- ear wax
- illnesses such as diabetes or Ménière’s disease.
IS TINNITUS SERIOUS?
Tinnitus is not usually serious, but if it’s a new symptom, it is sensible to get your GP to check it. This is especially important if your tinnitus is in just one ear, you have sudden hearing loss or you notice it is like your heartbeat/pulse.
Your doctor will look into your ears and will usually suggest a hearing test. Occasionally you may need further tests, such as blood tests or a scan, to find the cause.
If your doctor finds a cause such as ear wax or Ménière’s disease, it will need treating.
For most people there isn’t an underlying cause to treat.
Most people can learn to cope with their tinnitus using simple self help measures.
If the tinnitus is an ongoing problem options include:
- hearing aids
- sound devices to mask the sound
- counselling for stress.
- An audiologist can help advise on what might suit you.
Self care for tinnitus:
- Reduce your exposure to loud noises.
- Quit smoking.
- In a quiet setting, a fan, soft music or low-volume radio static may help cover up the noise from tinnitus.
- Manage stress, since stress can make tinnitus worse.
- Dietary management of hyperinsulinaemia
Ototoxic means a drug or chemical that can damage the inner ear. Ototoxic medicines include –
- Certain Antibiotics, eg amikacin, gentamycin, kanamycin, neomycin, netilmicin, streptomycin, tobramycin, azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, vancomycin
- Antimalarials eg chloroquine, mefloquine, quinine
- Chemotherapy medications eg carboplatin, cisplatin, cyclophosphamide
- Diuretics (water tablets) eg bumetanide, ethacrynic acid, furosemide, torasemide
- Non-steroidal analgesics eg acetaminophen (paracetamol), aspirin (high doses), ibuprofen, indomethacin, salicylates 374