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Don’t dismiss Tinnitus so easily.

“Do not take Tinnitus lightly as it may be a precursor to a tumor or a sign of hearing loss.”

Tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in the ears, is a health issue that many people encounter in their daily lives. While it is often mild and short-lived, leading to a lack of necessary attention, prolonged episodes of tinnitus can cause exhaustion, stress, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, depression, anxiety, irritability, and headaches in individuals. Additionally, tinnitus, which can be a simple and momentary complaint, can also indicate a significant condition such as skull tumors, circulatory disorders, or vascular diseases. Therefore, it is recommended not to neglect routine health check-ups.

Professor Dr. Yıldırım Ahmet Bayazıt, the Head of the Department of Ear, Nose, and Throat Diseases at Yeni Yüzyıl University Gaziosmanpaşa Hospital, emphasized the importance of seeking treatment for tinnitus, stating that if left untreated, it can lead to hearing loss.

WHAT IS TINNITUS?

Tinnitus is the perception of ringing or other sounds in one or both of your ears. When you have tinnitus, the noise you hear does not result from an external sound, and other people usually cannot hear it. Tinnitus is a common problem, affecting approximately 15% to 20% of people and is especially prevalent in older individuals.

Tinnitus can often result from age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, or a circulatory system-related issue. For many individuals, tinnitus improves with the treatment of the underlying cause or with other therapies that reduce or mask the ringing, making it less noticeable.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TINNITUS?

Tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ears, can be defined as the perception of a sound by the patient without any acoustic stimulus. This sound can vary in tone, quality, and character. Often, the perceived sound, such as ringing, is described as buzzing, ringing bells, wind or whistle sounds, machine noise, hissing, or pulsing sounds like heartbeat.

Most individuals with tinnitus experience a ringing sound in their ears that only they can hear. The sounds of tinnitus can range from a low roar to a high squeal, and it can be present in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud that it interferes with your concentration or your ability to hear other sounds. Tinnitus can be constant or come and go.

In rare cases, tinnitus may manifest as a rhythmic pulse or whooshing sound, often synchronized with your heartbeat. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus. If you have pulsatile tinnitus, your doctor may be able to hear your tinnitus during an examination (objective tinnitus).

WHEN SHOULD I SEE A DOCTOR?

Tinnitus can affect your daily life, social interactions, and psychological well-being. If you have bothersome and persistent tinnitus, it is recommended to see your doctor.

SEE YOUR DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IN THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS:

  • If you have hearing loss or dizziness along with tinnitus.
  • If you are experiencing anxiety or depression as a result of your tinnitus, consult your doctor promptly.

WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF TINNITUS?

Tinnitus can occur in many individuals due to the following reasons:

Hearing loss: Inside your inner ear (cochlea), there are tiny, delicate hair cells that move when your ear receives sound waves. This movement triggers electrical signals along the nerve pathway from your ear to your brain (auditory nerve), and your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs in your inner ear are damaged, which can happen with aging or regular exposure to loud noises, your brain may receive random electrical signals, leading to tinnitus.

Ear infection or ear canal blockage: Your ear canals can become blocked by fluid buildup (ear infection), earwax, or other foreign substances. A blockage can change the pressure in your ear and cause tinnitus.

Head or neck injuries: Head or neck trauma can affect the inner ear, the auditory nerves, or brain functions related to hearing. Such injuries typically cause tinnitus in only one ear.

Medications: Some medications can cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse the tinnitus becomes. Medications known to contribute to tinnitus include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antibiotics, cancer medications, diuretics, and antidepressants. Often, unwanted noise disappears when you stop taking these medications.

WHAT ARE OTHER CAUSES OF TINNITUS?

Less common causes of tinnitus include other ear problems, chronic health conditions, and injuries or conditions affecting the nerves in your ear or the auditory centers in your brain.

Meniere’s disease. Tinnitus can be an early indication of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that can be caused by abnormal fluid pressure in the inner ear.

Eustachian tube dysfunction: In this condition, the tube that connects your middle ear to your upper throat may constantly expand, making your ear feel full.

Structural abnormalities of the ear bones: The hardening of the bones in your middle ear (otosclerosis) can affect your hearing and lead to tinnitus. This condition, caused by abnormal bone growth, tends to run in families.

Muscle spasms in the inner ear: The muscles in the inner ear can tense up (spasm), causing tinnitus, hearing loss, and a sensation of fullness in the ear. This can sometimes occur without a readily explainable cause but may also result from neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: Problems related to the TMJ, which is the joint where your lower jawbone connects to your skull in front of your ears, can cause tinnitus.

Acoustic neuroma or other head and neck tumors: Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that develops on the cranial nerve that goes from your brain to your inner ear, controlling balance and hearing. Other tumors in the head, neck, or brain can also cause tinnitus.

Vascular disorders: Conditions that affect your blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or malformed or twisted blood vessels, can cause the blood to flow more forcefully through your vessels and arteries. These changes in blood flow can cause tinnitus or make tinnitus more pronounced.

Other chronic conditions: Conditions including diabetes, thyroid problems, migraines, anemia, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus have been associated with tinnitus.

Risk factors:

Anyone can experience tinnitus, but these factors can increase your risk:

Exposure to loud noise. High sounds such as heavy machinery, power tools, and firearms are common sources of noise-induced hearing loss. Portable music devices like MP3 players can also cause noise-induced hearing loss if played at a high volume for a long time. People who work in noisy environments such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers are particularly at risk.

Age. As you age, the number of functional nerve fibers in your ears decreases, which can lead to hearing problems associated with tinnitus.

Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus.

Tobacco and alcohol use. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus. Consuming alcohol also increases the risk of tinnitus.

Certain health conditions. Obesity, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and a history of arthritis or head trauma increase your risk of tinnitus.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF TINNITUS?

Tinnitus affects people in different ways. For some individuals, tinnitus can significantly impact their quality of life. If you have tinnitus, you may also experience the following:

Fatigue Stress Sleep problems Difficulty focusing Memory problems Depression Anxiety and irritability Headaches Issues with work and family life

Treating these associated conditions may not directly affect tinnitus, but it can help you feel better.

WHAT ARE THE PREVENTION METHODS FOR TINNITUS?

In most cases, tinnitus is the result of something that cannot be prevented. However, certain measures can help prevent certain types of tinnitus.

Use ear protection equipment to protect your ears from sound. Over time, exposure to loud noises can damage the nerves in the ear, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus. Try to limit your exposure to loud noises. If you cannot avoid loud noises, use ear protection to help preserve your hearing. If you are using a chainsaw, if you are a musician, or if you work in an industry that involves loud machinery or firearms (especially handguns or shotguns), always use over-the-ear hearing protection.

Stay away from loud sounds. Prolonged exposure to amplified music without ear protection or listening to music at very high volume levels with headphones can cause hearing loss and tinnitus.

Take care of your cardiovascular health. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and taking other steps to keep your blood vessels healthy can help prevent tinnitus associated with obesity and vascular disorders.

Limit alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. These substances can affect blood flow, particularly when used in excess, and contribute to tinnitus.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT METHODS FOR TINNITUS?

Medication applications TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy) Neuromonics Laser Hearing aid applications Maskers Acupuncture Hypnosis Biofeedback TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Botulinum toxin application Electrical Stimulation/TENS PATM (Pressure Applied to the Mastoid)

The treatment for tinnitus can vary depending on the cause of the ringing. While tinnitus can be a simple and temporary complaint, it can also be a sign of a serious condition such as skull tumors, circulatory disorders, or vascular diseases. Therefore, it is recommended that you undergo routine health check-ups without neglecting them.

Source: (BYZHA) Beyaz Haber Ajansı


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