Tinnitus, the problem of hearing, is not a disease; it is a symptom that indicates an illness. When a person hears sounds like ringing, clicking, hissing or swishing, which seems to originate from inside the ear or head, he might be suffering from tinnitus. In medical terminology sounds heard without the presence of any external source are called Tinnitus. The auditory nerve picks up signals within its own circuit and creates its own cycle resulting in perpetual firing of neurons in the auditory pathway. These sounds could be heard in both ears or in either of them and the sound could be low or high pitched.
The main cause to this problem is extended exposure to loud sound. There are many other reasons for the ears to start hearing sounds. It could be ear wax, so when the ear canal is cleaned the problem vanishes. It could also be caused due to side effects of some medicines like antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs. According to a research there are at least 200 drugs whose side effects is Tinnitus. Thus when the person stops taking these medicines the problem is cured. Aging has also been cited as a cause to this problem. There could be some very serious causes like tumor in the auditory nerve or stiffness of the bones inside the ears. Tinnitus may also symbolize neck or jaw problem, cardiovascular disease, allergy, high blood pressure, head or neck injury, thyroid, etc.
Tinnitus is considered an annoyance to all its sufferers as they are unable to concentrate or sleep. The sound may be heard at intervals especially at night or it could be persistent. None the less it can have a major psychological effect on the patient. It damages the cochlea, an organ in the inner ear, whose function is to transmit sound from the ear to the brain. Though it is not associated with complete hearing loss, partial hearing loss or noise induced hearing loss may be associated with it. Carpenters, musicians, factory workers and all those who are exposed to loud music may develop Tinnitus.
As this problem does not originate from any bacteria or virus, it is the effect of another problem, it cannot be cured completely. It can only be treated and avoided. Some home remedies to help keep the problem at bay, is to avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and salt. Though salt intake could be minimized and not completely avoided. Yoga or physical exercise is also another way of keeping this anguish aside. Pouring hot oil into the ear has also been used as a cure in ancient times.
Other conventional form of therapy is masking or tinnitus retraining therapy. According to doctors, this is just a remedy and not a cure. Every patient gives varying results to this therapy hence it may take more than a year to see results. Under this therapy the sound heard by the patient is identified, therapeutic advice and sound therapy is giving to the patient. The patient is made to hear this sound via a microphone over a period of time. Gradually the sound is pushed back in to the subconscious level where it does not interfere with day to day life. A psychotherapist is the best person who could assist a sufferer through this therapy. Done under proper guidance and best equipments, as noise generators may also be required, this can work as a miracle to patients with minor tinnitus.
There are also hearing aids, wearable sound generators, cochlear implants and tabletop generators available for treatment according to the level of the problem in an individual.
Tinnitus Phase Out Therapy (TPOT) is another form of remedy which works almost on the basis of tinnitus retraining therapy but takes very less time and also minimizes the cost. Under this therapy signal in the central auditory system is interrupted and an opposite sound is created at the same pitch. This is done through a special machine which feeds this alternate sound right into the ears. However this treatment best works for those patients who can hear a single tone at a very definite pitch, so that the machine can be programmed to that level and stored for use is every session.
The latest breakthrough in solving this problem is injections that are administered as infusion.
The best way to prevent this problem or to avoid a reoccurrence is to avoid noisy situations like movie theater, rock concert, etc. cocoa, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol are best avoided. Also there are many drugs that should be avoided.