Tinnitus is the condition when you hear sounds that do not actually exist. Normal people may hear a faint buzzing sound in a quiet environment, but a tinnitus patient would notice a sound large enough to interfere with daily life. While tinnitus itself may not affect the patient much, a serious underlying condition may be hidden👂🏻.
Tinnitus is the condition that makes you hear sounds from inside your body instead of from an external source. Physiologically speaking, it is when the hair cells are damaged and it gives the brain a wrong signal that there is a sound, thus giving tinnitus. When the noises are too exaggerated and bother you much, medical help should be sought. Sounds heard by tinnitus patients may be present in multiple possible forms, such as:
Tinnitus can be categorized into 3 major types:
The duration of tinnitus is variable, it may last for a minute to a week. It may occur in a single or both of the ears. Usually, tinnitus is a condition with minor consequences, but it can be the symptom of something severe behind the scene sometimes, such as Meniere’s Disease.
Tinnitus is commonly associated with inner ear damage, particularly damage to the sensitive hair cells due to ototoxic chemicals or loud noises.
Nevertheless, there is still not a very clear piece of evidence indicating the causes of tinnitus. Besides, there are many other causes of tinnitus that may not involve the injury of the inner ear, including the common ones like:
Tinnitus itself usually does not give rise to serious consequences, but the underlying cause may lead to detrimental aftermaths. Therefore, tinnitus may get worse alongside the occurrence of its hidden problems. Timely medical help should be sought as soon as possible if these underlying health problems of tinnitus occur.
Tinnitus is a disease of high prevalence. There are multiple risk factors that can contribute to tinnitus, including:
The diagnosis of tinnitus is usually based solely on symptoms reported by patients. However, tests are required to confirm the underlying cause of tinnitus:
Although tinnitus is incurable currently owing to its unclear mechanism, it can still be managed with the following approaches to relieve or treat its underlying causes:
There are no medications that will help tinnitus go away. However, there are multiple things that can help tinnitus to go away. Firstly, treat the underlying causes. If there are no organic reasons causing tinnitus, you can try using a white noise machine, playing soft music or turning on the radio at low volume. It may relieve tinnitus, but if not, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, tinnitus is incurable. However, it can still be relieved or have its underlying causes treated. If the tinnitus is idiopathic (occurred for no reason), you can attempt to use a white noise machine, play soft music or turn on the radio at low volume. It may relieve tinnitus, but please seek medical help as soon as possible if tinnitus is not relieved.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. David Ho 何志謙醫生. Dr. Ho graduated from the University of Melbourne Medical School and obtained Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat) Specialist training under the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Before returning to Hong Kong, he worked at Royal Children’s Hospitals in Melbourne, the biggest pediatric medical center in the Southern Hemisphere and was a specialist ENT consultant at Royal Melbourne, Alfred and Austin Hospitals. He obtained post-fellowship training in New York, Hong Kong, London and Canada. He is now an honorary assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong and an honorary Specialist ENT Consultant for the Matilda International Hospital.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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