Tinnitus is a very common symptom encountered in day-to-day life. A person often describes it as a 'ringing sensation' in the ears or may perceive it as hissing, clicking, whistling, rustling sounds, in the absence of external sounds. It may be intermittent or continuous and is present in one or both ears. About one in five people have bothersome tinnitus and it negatively affects their quality of life and/or functional health status.
Tinnitus is primarily caused by environmental and behavioral factors, with noise exposure and hearing loss being the main catalysts for the condition. However, for a variety of reasons, certain groups appear to be more susceptible to both acute and chronic tinnitus (tinnitus lasting for more than six months).
Some High-Risk Groups Include
- Senior citizens.
- People employed in loud workplace environments.
- People with prior health issues like a history of depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. These per se do not cause tinnitus, but they do exacerbate symptoms.
Causes in Brief
Tinnitus can result from a variety of causes, ranging from those in the ear like impacted wax, fluid in the middle ear, presbycusis, noise-induced hearing loss to systemic causes like hypertension, thyroid hormone excess/deficiency, and anemia.
Sometimes, head injury and brain hemorrhage patients too develop tinnitus later on.
Evaluation of a Patient with Tinnitus
There are various tools used by audiologists or otorhinolaryngologists that help to evaluate and diagnose tinnitus. They include:
Speech audiometry, pure tone audiometry, tympanogram, acoustic reflex testing and otoacoustic emission testing.
The underlying cause should be discovered and treated. Sometimes, even the treatment of the cause may not alleviate tinnitus.
When no cause is found, management includes:
- Reassurance and psychotherapy where the patient learns to live with tinnitus.
- Techniques of relaxation and biofeedback.
- Sedation and tranquilizers.
- Masking of tinnitus with the help of tinnitus maskers, in patients who have no hearing loss.
For more information consult a tinnitus specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/audiologist/tinnitus