Understanding Tinnitus

//Understanding Tinnitus

A ringing, hissing, or booming sensation in one or both ears, caused by infection of the middle or inner ear, a side effect of certain drugs, etc.

Tinnitus is a common condition experienced by about 10% of the population. The American Tinnitus Association estimates more than 50 million Americans suffer from at least occasional bouts of tinnitus. For most people, these sounds are constant – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises over a prolonged period of time. But there are other causes, including medications, diet, head trauma, stress, hearing loss, jaw joint disorders, and blocked eardrums.

There’s no single cure for tinnitus, but there are treatments that can help. In general they focus on improving a person’s well-being, as a state of general wellness can improve how you perceive the tinnitus. Diet (especially cutting down on salt), physical exercise, and relaxation are recommended.

Tinnitus can sometimes be an indication of something more serious. It’s important to visit the doctor to rule out any underlying health problem.

Five myths about tinnitus:

1. It’s a disease.
Tinnitus is a medical condition or a symptom, not a disease.

2. Caffeine makes it worse.
There’s no scientific evidence to say caffeine has any effect on tinnitus – in fact, there’ve been studies [https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/food-drink-and-tinnitus] that say suddenly cutting out coffee can worsen the symptoms of tinnitus.

3. Alcohol (especially red wine) makes it worse.
Again, there’s no proof one way or the other. And there is some evidence to suggest that alcohol in moderate amounts can actually help.

4. Ginkgo biloba can cure tinnitus.
Extracts from the Ginkgo biloba tree have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In parts of Europe Ginkgo biloba extracts are regularly prescribed to treat blood disorders and memory problems. However, a double blind, placebo controlled trial [http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7278/73] carried out in the UK showed no significant differences between those taking the supplements and those on the placebo. When it comes to treating tinnitus, the researchers concluded the placebo was as effective – or ineffective – as the placebo.

5. Tinnitus causes deafness.
Although it may begin to occur at the same time you’re losing your hearing, tinnitus doesn’t cause hearing loss. Hearing aids are often recommended to help you hear outside sounds better again and reduce your awareness of those internal sounds caused by tinnitus.


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